Did you know? The previous state Government introduced Joint Regional Planning Panels; these were designed to usurp/bypass Local Councils in matters deemed to big for councils to handle. Part of the Process included 3 appointed panel members representing the State Government and two local councillors. These councillors were to be the voice of the community, the ability to gain a majority to speak on behalf of Liverpool would always be a struggle. Since the changes, where the JRPP handed back to the councils all the DA process(work) but maintained the decision making, councils have now had to foot the bill although we do now retain the Application fees.
The present Coalition Government embraced the JRPP and have recently decided that councillors be paid for their contribution and back dated it. Not merely the bill for the operation of the panel i.e. location etc but now each councillor in representing their community will be paid a $600 fee per attendance, to do what, represent the community. Is this not double dipping, don’t we pay them already to ‘represent’ the community? Discounting reasonable travel costs, this fee is a duplicate and dependent on who has the majority vote gets to decide who gets the additional councillor pay plus of course it’s been backdated to September 2010.
To me this is unreasonable, while in some cases councillors aren’t paid a great deal for what they do, you know that going in, so why does this panel deserve additional money when a few councillors attend numerous committee meetings etc as part of their role as councillor and don’t earn the additional stipend? Perhaps because this was what they campaigned for your vote to do!
When all is said and done, the JRPP removes transparency from the community, if I were on council I would strive to make as much open to the community is at all possible… actually other than for a private residents name I think everything council does should be open and transparent.
There is another issue I will address soon, the State Govts., attempt to make it easier for local councils to sell off public open space or facilities by simply changing the zoning or classification of some blocks of land. While I’ve been a ‘conditional’ supporter of selling off unused, vacant developable land, I do not support selling community space and facilities in the attempt to make a buck. More on this later.