Wangaratta councillors: Spare us the fluff

WANGARATTA’S new councillors have wasted little time in flexing their muscles — this week telling council staff their reports to public meetings need to improve.
Nanjing Night Net

On Tuesday night at their first public meeting at the Everton Hall, the newly elected councillors took turns at firing broadsides over reports they said were lacking detail and explanation.

They say the reports prepared by senior council staff needed to show how ratepayers’ money was being spent and who was making decisions.

Cr Julian Fidge refused to accept a quarterly report on the achievements of council staff.

Such reports are generally acknowledged with little or no debate.

“We go from having little details on issues that we are told are key priorities to having too much information including telling us that we will have a paper-free component of our space at the Regional Living Expo,” Cr Fidge said.

“But what are the costs, the cost to council, of the submission to Regional Development Victoria for the future of the old Ovens College?

“There has been a steering committee appointed — who is on the steering committee?

“Agribuisiness marketing specialists have been engaged to attract investment — at what cost to council?

“On a whole, I’m not happy with the report and will move that council not accept this report.

“It should be returned to the officers and get the right information for the community. It is information that they are entitled to know.”

Cr Fidge was one of five new councillors elected last month, partly over community backlash at the previous council’s plans for rural land.

His candidate’s statement ahead of the election vowed to cut council administrators.

Cr Paul O’Brien was another of the newly elected councillors and at his first public meeting this week he took aim at the finance report.

“As new councillors, we are all coming up to speed on these issues,” he said.

“But I would like to see some pretty significant changes to this report,

“I’m happy to accept these reports as they are but, as time goes by, we want to see change.

“We want to get a picture of the risks.”

Wangaratta councillor Julian Fidge has made a stand.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.