Coun­cil­lor stands aside

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

John Robinson

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