Feeble justification for delay in council democracy
Anyone who was looking forward to a quick return to an elected Council, now that the financial crisis seems to be over, must have been bitterly disappointed with the Minister's announcement that there will be no election until the end of 2024.
By that time, we shall have been under the jurisdiction of an appointed Administrator for so long that most people will have forgotten what an elected Council looks like.
Given that the original idea was that the Administrator was to be in charge only until the Council's financial mess was sorted out and a working organization was put in place, it is difficult to understand why it is necessary for the Administrator to stay on for another two and a half years.
The excuse that the Minister doesn't want to wear out the ratepayers with two elections in two and a half years is about as feeble a justification for a delay as can be imagined.
We are going to a state election one of these days, so, at the very least, why couldn't our local election be held at the same time.The Administrator himself now says that the Council's affairs are on a sound financial footing and that there is a 10-year plan in place to guide long-term decision-making and maintain stability.
If that is the case, what obstacle is there to handing over the reins immediately?
The only conclusion we can draw is that the Minister doesn't trust any elected Council not to go off the rails again, as soon as it has its hands on the chequebook, and is going to keep the Administrator in office as long as possible, to avoid having to cover up another failure of Office of Local Government and the NSW Audit Office on her watch.
Anther meaningless public inquiry would probably erode whatever political capital she has left to the point where it was non-existent.
Residents of the Peninsula might also have noted the Minister's announcement that the new Development Control Plan will be promulgated this month.
However, if they think this will make any difference to the way development is managed in Central Coast, I suspect they will be in for a rude awakening.
The "new" Plan is just a regurgitation of the two old ones, with a few extra mistakes added, so we can continue to look forward to multiple future approvals of non-conforming developments, contrary to the wishes of the community at large.
The Council has departed from its standards so regularly and with so little justification that the Plan now has about as much legal strength as a wet lettuce leaf.
In fact, it is, accordingly, very difficult for the Council to exercise any authority, because it has created so many undesirable precedents that it has hardly a leg to stand on when it comes to a Court challenge.
Developers now have pretty much given up any pretence of observing the Plan requirements.
They do whatever they want and just point to all the other variations the Council has allowed as sufficient grounds for demanding approval of new ones.
It would be nice to think that an elected Council might change that situation, but history suggests otherwise.
Email, 6 Jun 2022
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy