Robin­son yet to make call

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY COLIN MACGIL­LIVRAY

John Robin­son will de­cide on his fu­ture as a Hor­sham Ru­ral City coun­cil­lor be­fore the coun­cil’s next or­di­nary meet­ing on July 22.

Cr Robin­son this month penned an open let­ter stat­ing he would ‘stand aside’ from coun­cil du­ties be­cause of what he be­lieved were gov­er­nance is­sues.

His griev­ances stemmed from the call­ing of a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing to deal with his mo­tion of rescis­sion against a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to pub­licly dis­play a 20-year mas­ter­plan to re­de­velop the city.

Cr Robin­son was un­able to at­tend the spe­cial meet­ing be­cause of a spe­cial­ist ap­point­ment.

In his ab­sence the mo­tion was de­feated by four votes to two, with coun­cil­lors David Grim­ble and Josh Koenig vot­ing in favour of rescis­sion.

Cr Grim­ble de­scribed the process as ‘law­ful, but un­demo­cratic’.

De­spite flag­ging his in­ten­tion to stand aside, Cr Robin­son said he

had made no firm de­ci­sions on his fu­ture. He said he felt his ‘ca­pac­ity to sup­port the com­mu­nity and do what I was elected to do has been very lim­ited’.

“Bal­anced against that, I’ve had such a huge swell of en­cour­age­ment to stay on coun­cil,” he said.

“If me con­tin­u­ing on coun­cil works against the com­mu­nity wishes, then clearly I shouldn’t be on coun­cil, but that’s not the mes­sage I’m get­ting.

“One way or an­other I will know by the next or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing, which is where my rescis­sion mo­tion should have been ad­dressed.”

De­bate over the City to River Draft Mas­ter­plan – a visionary 20-year doc­u­ment aimed at re­de­vel­op­ing Hor­sham’s cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict, river­front and sport­ing precincts – be­ing pub­licly dis­played was the cat­a­lyst for Cr Robin­son’s rescis­sion mo­tion.

Cr Robin­son ar­gued el­e­ments of the plan were un­work­able and should not be dis­played to the public.

Sports and re­cre­ation groups, in­clud­ing Hor­sham Lawn Ten­nis Club, Hor­sham Cro­quet Club and Sawyer Park Minia­ture Rail­way, were an­gry be­cause they were not part of the planned re­de­vel­op­ment of Hor­sham Botanic Gar­dens.

But mayor Mark Rad­ford said the project rep­re­sented a guid­ing vi­sion and was sub­ject to change af­ter the com­mu­nity had its say.

“Do I agree with every­thing that is shown or not shown on the con­cept plan? No,” Cr Rad­ford said.

“Do I think the work done so far is a great step for­ward in pro­vid­ing a lead­er­ship plan for a grow­ing re­gional city? Yes, ab­so­lutely.”

Coun­cil­lors Pam Clarke and Alethea Gul­vin also spoke in sup­port of dis­play­ing the plan pub­licly and gather­ing as much com­mu­nity in­put

“If me con­tin­u­ing on coun­cil works against the com­mu­nity wishes, then clearly I shouldn’t be on coun­cil, but that’s not the mes­sage I’m get­ting”

– John Robin­son

as pos­si­ble. Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Su­nil Bhalla said Cr Robin­son needed to clar­ify his in­ten­tions with the coun­cil.

“Cr Robin­son has sug­gested he wants to step aside, but I don’t re­ally know what that means,” he said.

“There is no pro­vi­sion within the act for a coun­cil­lor to step aside.

“If a coun­cil­lor doesn’t at­tend four con­sec­u­tive coun­cil meet­ings, they are dis­qual­i­fied from their po­si­tion un­der the act.”

Some com­mu­nity mem­bers have spo­ken out in sup­port of Cr Robin­son, in­clud­ing Hor­sham Am­a­teur Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Owen Hughan.

Hor­sham busi­ness­man and for­mer coun­cil­lor Robin Bar­ber is also crit­i­cal of the process and plan.

“I agree as much as any­one that we need ideas out in the com­mu­nity – but only af­ter ex­pan­sive con­sul­ta­tion and ex­plo­ration have es­tab­lished re­al­is­tic out­comes,” Mr Bar­ber said.

• The plan is now avail­able for public com­ment and can be viewed on­line at bit.ly/city­toriver.

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