Trip cost de­fended

Weekend Courier - - Front Page - Vanessa Sch­mitt

THE City of Rock­ing­ham has de­fended spend­ing $35,000 on send­ing a del­e­ga­tion to Ako, Japan, say­ing the sis­ter city re­la­tion­ship was an im­por­tant part of the busi­ness of lo­cal govern­ment.

Se­cret Har­bour res­i­dent Bri­ony Lopas claimed the trip was a mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of ratepay­ers’ money.

She said coun­cil ap­prov­ing the trip was a con­flict of in­ter­est as those vot­ing for it were the ones go­ing on the trip.

But Mayor Barry Sam­mels de­nied there was a con­flict of in­ter­est.

He said the del­e­ga­tion to Ako would de­liver many ben­e­fits to the wider com­mu­nity.

“Pe­ri­odic vis­its be­tween cities are an im­por­tant el­e­ment of sus­tain­ing a pro­duc­tive on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship,” Cr Sam­mels said.

“The City of Ako has been very ac­tive in this re­la­tion­ship, send­ing many del­e­ga­tions to Rock­ing­ham in the past five years.

“The City of Rock­ing­ham has not sent a del­e­ga­tion since 2011.”

The City of Ako del­e­ga­tion to Rock­ing­ham last year con­sisted of rep­re­sen­ta­tives such as the mayor, di­rec­tors, staff and ci­ti­zens.

The Rock­ing­ham Global Friend­ship Com­mit­tee pro­posed a sim­i­lar del­e­ga­tion re­cip­ro­cate the visit. The del­e­ga­tion to Ako was ap­proved at the March 27 coun­cil meet­ing.

The of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion will con­sist of Cr Sam­mels, the chief ex­ec­u­tive, Deputy Mayor Deb Ham­blin, Cr An­drew Burns and two Global Friend­ship Com­mit­tee mem­bers.

The es­ti­mated $35,000 in ex­penses would all be cov­ered within Pen­ina Dance School launch Bal­divis Re­cre­ation Cen­tre, Fifty Road Satur­day, April 21, 6pm to mid­night Visit the group’s Face­book page the Global Friend­ship Com­mit­tee bud­get.

There will also be an in­vi­ta­tion of ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from com­mu­nity mem­bers to par­tic­i­pate in the com­mu­nity del­e­ga­tion in con­junc­tion with the of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers who are part of an in­cor­po­rated or­gan­i­sa­tion and as­so­ci­a­tion will be able to ap­ply for a com­mu­nity grant up to $3000 to help with costs to visit Ako.

A pe­ti­tion set up by Ms Lopas against the trip has more than 550 sig­na­tures.

Pic­ture: Jay­den Silulu

Meste­jah Lafaele, Teuila Anesi and Pen­ina Lafaele, from Pen­ina Dance School. WHAT: WHERE: WHEN: TICK­ETS:

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