Last night had me attending one of the usual council forums, but last night wasn’t usual, the Western Forum usually has approx 15-20 attendees… but last night saw about 55-60 people. A great result one might say and certainly these people were there to voice their opinions about issues that directly affect them. Hats off to them! Hats off also to the Council staff who were there to present the Draft Management plan and their attempt to explain aspects of the document so as to encourage feedback from the community.
The Council staff did an admirable job in trying to explain and answer questions. General Manager Phil Tolhurst fielded questions from all and sundry, some even a little more aggressive and forceful. He held the meeting and answered the questions he could and offered to come back to the forum with the relevant staff who could answer their questions specifically about rezoning.
As with large groups of excited people things got heated and loud with the meeting closing under what could be described as aggressive / often forceful dissatisfaction from some of the residents.
So here is where the appalling comes in, Two of our Elected representatives – deputy mayor Peter Harle and Cllr Gary Lucas sat there as the General Manager took the brunt of the comments and dissatisfaction, at no time did either of these gentlemen stand up and offer to assist the residents as their elected representatives, nor did they offer to meet with them again and work through their problems or in fact offer any support to the council staff, who now take their direction from the councillors.
So shame on both Councillors, shame on you for not standing up with the council staff and offering to do your job and represent/work with the residents to help answer their concerns or in this case make submission for possible changes in the LLEP on their behalf.
Please don’t get me wrong, Mr Tolhurst and his staff was up to the task and handled themselves appropriately under what at times was difficult circumstances. What I found was a definite lack of support of both the community and the council staff by our Councillors. I expect more and I’m sure you do to… will these councillors have your back if needs be?
This is not to say that either of these councillors didn’t speak with one or two of the residents at the end of the meeting but Council staff moral must be low as neither supported the staff or offered assistance throughout the meeting.