Laurie Marchant
Laurie Marchant

CVC defends post-merger performance


COMMUNITY dissatisfaction with Clarence Valley Council's progress and service levels will be the focus of a meeting next week between council and the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The meeting follows a Grafton Chamber of Commerce deputation to council's March meeting, which claimed that council services in some areas were declining.

Grafton Chamber executive member Laurie Marchant said deteriorating gardens, council's use of outside consultants and expenditure on projects that were not considered by the wider community as priorities, had all drawn criticism.

Some community members also have voiced concerns over what they claim is sluggish progress in council's planning department when processing development applications.

Mr Marchant said it appeared there were problems associated with a number of council activities.

"This includes a widespread view that the communities of the Valley are not headed toward achieving the efficiencies that were forecast," he said.

Mr Marchant said he also knew of a number of Clarence Valley councillors who had issues with the general functioning of the council. Those councillors, he said, had been vocal without making their sentiments known publicly.

Clarence Valley Council management rigorously defended the organisation, saying that despite criticisms the council was regularly complimented on its progress since being amalgamated.

In a letter to the chamber, council's general manager Stuart McPherson said that to manage the successful merger of council systems and processes was a huge task and one that should not be underestimated.

"The task is being achieved and good progress is being made," Mr McPherson wrote.

Mr McPherson also said that council did not take lightly the appointment of consultants and contractors.

He said there were many issues involved in contracting work, including expertise in a particular fields, specialist equipment, time management and the provision of academic rigour and independence.

Mayor Ian Tiley added that he was unaware of any backlog of DAs in council's planning department and that there had been no specific complaints brought to him about development approvals.

"I'm hearing from the director of planning and environment that our turn around for DAs is something like 21 days and when you consider you have to advertise for 14 days that's one of the best in the State in my opinion," he said.

Despite the mayor's assurances, council has resolved to hold a meeting with developer groups soon.

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