Councillors should collaborate, despite differences
Councillors should be expected to act collaboratively and with consensus, despite differences of political outlook and underlying values, accordingly to Commissioner Ms Roslyn McCulloch in her Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council.
"The TCorp report in 2013 identified what was needed for a sustainable council - good management and a good council working together with their community," said Ms McCulloch.
"The governing body of Central Coast Council was not a council which worked together, particularly later in its term.
"The behaviour of some councillors was very challenging for those chairing the meetings and often went unchecked."
Where Commissioner McCulloch named staff members, she did not name individual councillors whose behaviour was "very challenging".
Ms McCulloch said: "An indicator of the deterioration of relationships between councillors was the number and increasing frequency of Code of Conduct complaints made by one councillor against another.
"It is apparent from the nature of the complaints that the Code of Conduct procedures were weaponised in a presumed attempt to exclude, sanction or silence opponents within the governing body.
"The council meetings were unreasonably long and characterised by lengthy and often irrelevant debate, interruptions and points of order.
"The absence of consensus and the constant bickering may well have distracted the governing body from its role in managing the council finances and budgets."
Ms McCulloch said industrial psychologist firm Elton consulting was commissioned to investigate the council dynamics.
"The key findings in relation to relationships and capabilities were concerning," she said.
"A key issue for councillors was the lack of respectful and collaborative efforts between councillors.
"Greater enforcement of behavioural and procedural expectations between councillors was suggested.
"However, most councillors had no confidence that relationships between councillors could be improved.
"For the next term of Council, the report recommended better and continued training in formal protocols, consistent and robust management to promote and maintain the values of Council as an organisation and other measures to improve knowledge and transparency."
Report, 17 Mar 2022
Roslyn McCulloch, Public Inquiry
into Central Coast Council