Cameron Gow
Cameron Gow

Pollies left out of loop

THE draining of Wallangarra's Beehive Dam without public consultation has been the last straw for Cr Cameron Gow with communications at an all time low between council administration, councillors and the community.

"That's brought the issue to a head for me," Cr Gow said.

"(The councillors) need to know what is going with any infrastructure that is going to be impacting the community."

Cr Gow said it was the councillors, not council officers, who received phone calls from the public because of such work and it was important they at least had the heads up.

"We take back issues everyday to the officers to do with roads and other things and what seems to be happening is they are not coming back to us," he said.

"In the early stages, even the staff were trying to work out what the exact role of a councillor is."

He said while the role was mostly about policy and strategy, it was important for councillors to know when major works started.

"We have councillor training every six or 12 months either from a state department or the CMC or the Local Government Association of Queensland and they constantly remind us of what our role is," he said.

"But none of them seem to address communication with council officers.

"They don't seem to accept that we are at the most grass roots level of government and we are the most answerable to the public."

Cr Gow said he thought it was a "symptom of the amalgamation" because there were only half the councillors doing the same amount of work.

He said he hadn't spoken to the other councillors about the issue.

He said he would bring it up at the next general council meeting this month.

Cr Ross Bartley said he also expected the issue to be raised at the next meeting and the Beehive Dam incident wasn't the first time the councillors and the community had not been given the heads up on controversial work within the region.

"Personally I think it's a courtesy (to inform councillors and the public) that particular works are being carried out," he said.

But he said this was not the first time.

"What really came as a surprise was the Kital Road Bridge - it was about to be demolished and I had no idea," Cr Bartley said.

"There were things happening that I wasn't aware of, maybe the staff don't feel the need to involve us but as one organisation we all need to be informed because the number one port of call for the public is councillors.

"If we need to put a policy in place to always be informed of those things, we might need to do that."

Cr Bartley said often the public couldn't separate the councillors from the officers and they were held responsible for not informing the community of major works.

Cr Denise Ingram said there were things that had blown up but it was hard to be critical when often those things were from left field.

She said it was up to the councillors to let the staff know what they needed to make clear to them and what they needed to be informed of.

Cr Neil Meiklejohn said he was happy with communication from the staff to councillors, despite the occasional communication lapse.

"Is it a perfect world? No," he said.

"But there is also the flipside of that with information overload.

"What level of detail do we want, it's not practical to get everything because we won't be able to read and absorb it anyway."

A council spokeswoman said most projects of significance would be discussed in reports to councillors and the public would be informed where projects had a major impact on the community.

"Such as works at Fitzroy St, council looks at ways that we can inform, or if appropriate, consult with the public," she said.

"As a courtesy, council would normally make the public aware of a project like the draining of Wallangarra Beehive Dam in advance.

"But unfortunately that didn't happen this time."


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