Code of Conduct review for Clarence Valley councillor
THERE were tears and hugs in the public gallery at 7pm tonight when Clarence Valley councillor Karen Toms was cleared of breaching the Code of Conduct.
It took councillors three hours, one of which was spent in private, to finally put an end to accusations the elected representative had acted wrongly in her dealings with a party that had held a contract for local swimming pools.
A full report in tomorrow's Daily Examiner print edition.
THE gallery is currently huddled outside Clarence Valley Council chambers on Prince St after a heated discussion on a councillor conduct review was to be continued behind closed doors.
Councillor Karen Toms broke down several times as she made a five minute submission to her fellow councillors at tonight's ordinary meeting in relation to allegations she breached the Code of Conduct.
In May 2012 general manager Scott Greensill received two complaints alleging breaches of the Code of Conduct by the councillor.
He assessed those and referred them to a sole reviewer who conducted an investigation.
A 100-plus page confidential report was given to councillors on Friday with the lack of time allowed to digest the information being a bone of contention for a number of the elected representatives.
Cr Andrew Baker grilled Mr Greensill on the process followed during the code of conduct investigation and said he had a further 53 questions to ask relating to the confidential report.
Cr Baker said he had grave concerns the matter would be blown out of all proportion and compared it to a similar NSW local government Code of Conduct case which reportedly cost another local government more than $800,000.
He moved that the matter be dropped due to the process not being followed and was supported by Cr Jim Simmons and Cr Karen Toms.
This motion was lost and Mayor Richie Williamson moved the matter be referred to a "peer reviewer".
Cr Baker quickly asked the meeting move to confidential - a move debated by Cr Williamson but subsequently agreed on by the balance of councillors.
There is a full council agenda still to be discussed and no indication on how long the debate will continue.
Updates will follow along with a full story in tomorrow's Daily Examiner.