Councillor stands aside
John Robinson has declared he will stand aside as a Horsham Rural City councillor until his claims of ‘repeated unreasonable behaviour’ within the council are resolved.
Cr Robinson said he had made the decision based on the council ‘not operating in the best interests of the community’ and not ‘operating in accordance with basic governance standards mandated by the Local Government Act and expected by Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek’.
Cr Robinson said under the circumstances he was ‘unable to provide effective representation’.
His declaration comes after the council moved at its June meeting to release a long-term Wimmera River and Central Activities District Plan.
He said his decision to ‘stand aside’ fell short of a resignation from the council. But his resignation would be forthcoming if there was no change to circumstances.
He has detailed his position in a letter to the editor.
Here is his letter – SIR, – As your readers would be aware, Horsham Rural City Council moved to release a long-term Wimmera River and Central Activities District Plan at its June 24 meeting and also that I advised intention to rescind this motion at the same meeting.
In the brief plan overview afforded to councillors, sufficient flaws and governance issues were identified to warrant a closer look prior to official release.
The placement of a civic green in the middle of the current police station realistically means we would never see the much-desired civic open space.
The council plan, ratified at the same meeting, directs us to seek alternative locations for the failed multi-user sports stadium.
Clearly the proposed site is not well supported by the community, has critical unresolved issues and has been the subject of information gatekeeping.
It is concerning that community and sporting groups with a combined total of about 250 years of service have already been told by council officers that they will be removed – before the council has made any decision. A question is: who actually runs the council?
My notice of rescission allows councillors who care, the opportunity to research, to reconsider and do what they are elected to do – consult with affected community groups.
Local Law 1 determines the rescission notice process which I have followed in good faith, including specifying of the hearing date, July 22, our next ordinary meeting.
Mayor Mark Radford has used exactly the same process in the past – without interference.
What is different in this case is that Mayor Radford and chief executive Sunil Bhalla decided to compress timeframes dramatically – to July 3 – with absolutely no discussion with myself. They have failed to consider the very reason for the rescission motion and also are uncaring that I have a specialist commitment away from Horsham that I am unable to break.
So while I, and one other councillor, actually meet with affected groups and look to solutions, the mayor and CEO are chasing another costly legal opinion to justify departing from the authorised meeting procedure – a procedure that they put in place.
Unfortunately, this pattern is all too familiar. On nearly every project or proposal that I have put up on behalf of the community and many debates I have engaged in I have encountered illogical resistance, low-grade legal opinions or have been denied procedural fairness by inconsistent rule application.
It is concerning that the only reason this behaviour exists is that those with the power to set the standards tolerate the behaviour, by their silence.
Repeated unreasonable behaviour is bullying and bullying is unacceptable in any form, be it personal or against community groups.
Horsham Rural City Council is not operating in the best interests of the community, nor is it operating in accordance with basic governance standards mandated by the Local Government Act and expected by Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek. I am unable to provide effective representation.
I advise that it is my intention to stand aside as a councillor of Horsham Rural City Council until this position is resolved.
It is appropriate that the community decides if it is happy with the processes and representation provided by its council and if not, seeks a remedy. This may require communication with Minister Somyurek.