Council votes not to investigate the feasibility of ward system

AT the City of Coffs Harbour Council meeting on February 23, Councillor Rodger Pryce put a motion ‘That the City investigates the possibility of having Councillors represent Wards within our Local Government Area and report back to Council with recommendations on how this could be implemented with the least possible cost’.

The motion was seconded by Councillor George Cecato.

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Despite comprehensive reasons given by Councillor Pryce, the motion was lost, with only Councillors Pryce and Cecato voting for it and Councillor Swan absent.

The news was not received well by several Sawtell residents.

Keith Bensley, a prominent Sawtellian, expressed his disappointment on social media and more than 30 people commented to the effect that their area could be better represented.

“It’s pretty disappointing that they won’t even look at it,” Mr Bensley said.

“It’s a blatant rebuke of the community.

“I’ve not met many people who think that the southern area, apart from the First Avenue gardens, has been looked after properly,” Mr Bensley said.

Councillor Tony Judge, who voted against the proposal, said, “The proposal to create wards seemed to be a solution looking for a problem.

“In my year in Council, I have never seen an instance where Councillors have voted on geographic grounds.

“This cohort of Councillors is good at keeping the overall benefit of the Coffs community in mind when they make decisions,” Mr Judge said.

“I fear that a wards system may lead to narrow decision making and horse trading, instead of decisions in the interest of the community as a whole.

“I think the need to make broad decisions and assess priorities makes for better decisions and better Councillors.”

By Andrew VIVIAN

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