Fortress mentality widespread within Council
Norm Harris is right to be concerned about the lack of public access to planning information from the Council ("Significant failure of the planning system", PN 586).
In the past, there was always a duty planner available to provide information and advice to members of the public, and I availed myself of this useful service on more than one occasion, so it is disappointing, but not exactly surprising, that Council has decided to dispense with this avenue of assistance to ratepayers.
Anyone who has written a letter of inquiry to the Council knows that it will take months to get a reply and that the information reluctantly provided will be couched in the most unhelpful terms, while answering the inquiry in the most limited sense in which the question can be interpreted.
There is some kind of "fortress" mentality widespread within the Council organisation, whereby Council servants see ratepayers (their employers) as adversaries in a contest to keep as much secret within the organisation as possible and grudgingly reveal as little as can possibly comply with statutory requirements.
This contempt with which ratepayers are regarded is typified by the Administrator's decision to renew the CEO's contract for a period of five years, in breach of all procedural requirements and without giving the slightest hint beforehand of the intention to block any possible public review of the CEO's performance, when the new Council is elected this year.
This cosy little arrangement completely ties the hands of any elected Council, far out beyond the next Council's term of office.
In fact, the next two elected Councils, assuming that we have elections in 2024 and 2027, will be virtually hamstrung in undertaking any review of the CEO's performance, when he has tenure until 2029.
One wonders what other little tricks the Administrator has up his sleeve, to limit the freedom of action of our elected Council, whenever we are lucky enough to get one.
Email, 30 Jan 2024
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy