In ‘good shape’

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Fears of com­mu­nity anx­i­ety in re­sponse to spite­ful Hor­sham coun­cil de­bate has prompted the city’s lead­ing mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cer to as­sure the com­mu­nity that op­er­a­tional ser­vices are con­tin­u­ing as usual.

Hor­sham Ru­ral City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Brown said Hor­sham district peo­ple should feel con­fi­dent the coun­cil was main­tain­ing ap­pro­pri­ate lev­els of lo­cal gover­nance.

But Mr Brown added a con­tin­u­a­tion of pub­lic con­flict be­tween coun- cil­lors might have se­ri­ous long-term con­se­quences.

“I want to re­as­sure the com­mu­nity that coun­cil func­tions are con­tin­u­ing as usual and from an op­er­a­tional per­spec­tive things are pro­ceed­ing well,” he said.

“I also be­lieve that coun­cil gover­nance is still func­tion­ing ap­pro­pri­ately as ev­i­denced by the past coun­cil meet­ing where the pre­dom­i­nant part of busi­ness was con­ducted in a healthy way.

“I am dis­ap­pointed, how­ever, in pub­lic con­flict be­tween coun­cil­lors, which I don’t think is gen­er­ally good or ap­pro­pri­ate and in the longer term might im­pinge on our abil­ity to pro­vide proper gover­nance.

“But at the present time at least, the coun­cil is con­tin­u­ing to gov­ern well.”

Coun­cil­lors have en­gaged in heated dis­cus­sion at meet­ings for the last cou­ple of months, much of it based around the coun­cil’s stance on a pro­posed West­ern High­way by­pass of Hor­sham.

Pub­lic de­bate has in­cluded ac­cu­sa­tions of coun­cil­lor con­flict of in­ter­est and bias.

Lo­cal govern­ment, by de­sign, can only op­er­ate through coun­cil­lor, coun­cil staff and com­mu­nity col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Coun­cil­lors play roles on var­i­ous work­ing com­mit­tees and re­port back to coun­cil meet­ings for dis­cus­sion, de­bate and de­ci­sions.

The ex­tended Hor­sham coun­cil spat comes at a time when re­gional lo­cal gover­nance and man­age­ment are in the State Govern­ment spot­light.

Ararat Ru­ral City and Cen­tral Gold­fields Shire coun­cil man­age­ment and de­ci­sion-mak­ing have al­ready at­tracted State Govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion this year.

Peter Brown

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