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Councillor makes a splash

EVEN AN Olympic-size pool of water couldn't have put out the fire in Clarence Valley Council chambers on Tuesday night, which saw Councillor Karen Toms reprimanded by Mayor Richie Williamson.

Cr Toms said she wanted the council to seek external legal advice about a contract dispute over the Grafton swimming pools.

Despite Cr Williamson saying there was no need for Cr Toms to speak to the motion, as there was no opposition, she went on to deliver a stinging argument about a conflict between the operator and council, regarding when the contract actually began.

She went on to say she was the one who approached the operator of the pool and she'd since gathered a variety of emails between the two parties.

"I have difficulties with what's just occurred here," Cr Pat Comben said, calling a point of order.

"Those (emails) should have been put in front of us and subject to debate."

Cr Comben went on to say officers should first try to sort out a solution before legal advice was sought and Cr Craig Howe agreed.

"I find it disappointing that contact was made with a contractor during a contract and (you've) come to a council meeting without sharing that information, and ask to spend ratepayers' money on advice we don't need," Cr Howe said.

Cr Toms insisted the issue was long-standing and she was disappointed the council wouldn't take it to an independent person to look at.

While the quarterly budget was passed, Cr Comben prompted another motion for the general manager to finalise the issue and seek legal advice if necessary, which was passed.

But the point of order wasn't lost on Cr Williamson.

"I'm sure your intention was good," he said to Cr Toms.

"But I have a serious concern about good governance."

He said, while he wasn't entirely clear of code of conduct implications, he would caution against Cr Toms confronting contractors.

"Am I allowed to respond?" she asked.

"No," the Mayor responded.

Topics:  clarence valley council, karen toms, swimming pool


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