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Councillor Column – 15 August 2023 – Councillor Brian Ingram

Aug 18, 2023

For Immediate Release 15 August 2023
Authorised by Councillor Brian Ingram

Over the last 2 years I have witnessed some items/reports presented to Councillors at meetings that not a lot of thought has been put into.

The latest one and the most concerning one is the recommendation relating to the consultation process with our community in regards to whether Council will apply for a Special Rate Variation (SRV).

An important piece of that process is to consult with the community and as such there will be numerous meetings held (in excess of 20) as well as pop up stalls where the community can be informed of the process and why it’s being considered and what it means financially and what it may or may not achieve.

That process makes good and logical sense BUT as well as that a staff member has in their wisdom suggested that staff handpick a committee from the community to oversee and report their thoughts/findings on the matter back to Councillors. It’s my belief that the ‘community’ picked that ‘committee’ at the last Local Government Elections, they are called Councillors.

Again I’m not aware of what staff were/are picturing the volunteers to ask, as the large majority of Hilltops senior staff don’t reside or pay rates in Hilltops and as such I’m not sure of the amount of local knowledge they have when it comes to handpicking ‘Clayton’ Councillors.

The concept that staff could explain and inform these volunteers of the possible need, costs or benefits, which would have to include Council’s current financial position, budgets, proposed sale of assets, long term financial plan, capital works program, to name a few considerations in 4 meetings is that far from reality its absurd.

The most concerning aspect of this part of the process is that Councillors will be ‘locked out’ of those 4 meetings with those volunteers. What possible reason could staff have for doing that, is it because they are planning and intending to tell 2 different stories to 2 different groups? If there is another reason I have not heard it. I and a number of other Councillors find that insulting. It is because of this that a Notice of Amendment has been lodged to rescind that part of the process regarding community consultation. The Notice of Amendment will be dealt with at an extraordinary meeting to be held Tuesday 15th August.

Brian Ingram