Five to take turns as deputy mayor

COFFS HARBOUR City Council will be all chiefs and only one Indian following a startling decision by a majority of the councillors.

The city will have five different deputy mayors in the next 12 months, with each one serving for just 10 weeks.

Despite opposition from Mayor Keith Rhoades, and the doubts voiced by former Deputy Mayor Bill Palmer, five councillors voted to support a motion by Cr Kerry Hines to allow all five councillors who nominated for the position to share the role ahead of the next local government election on September 8, 2012, with the time divided equally between all nominees.

The move was described by Cr Bill Palmer as "unwieldy" and "a potential source of amusement for other councils".

Cr Denise Knight, Cr Mark Graham, Cr John Arkan, Cr Kerry Hines and Cr Rodney Degens will each spend 10 weeks in the deputy mayor's role ahead of the election.

The decision, made at Thursday's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting, means by the time residents go to the polls, the only member of the current council who will not have spent some time as either the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor will be Cr Paul Templeton.

The Mayor said yesterday he had never heard of appointments for such a short period either locally or anywhere else in NSW in 20 years of local government, except in the case of the sudden death or resignation of a mayor or deputy.

Cr Rhoades and Cr Palmer tried to move an amendment which would have seen fewer deputies, but could not muster the numbers.

Cr Kerry Hines said their amendment went against the idea behind her original motion, which was that all the councillors who wanted it would have a turn at the deputy's job to gain experience and for the council to be seen as a team which could work together to represent Coffs Harbour in the best possible light.

The Mayor said yesterday the majority of councillors had ignored 44 years of local government experience between himself and Crs Jenny Bonfield and Bill Palmer and he thought the short 10-week tenure for Deputy Mayor was "a bit demeaning".

He publicly thanked current Deputy Mayor Cr Denise Knight for her excellent work in the role.

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