In ‘good shape’
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.