Clarence Valley councillor Margaret McKenna.
Clarence Valley councillor Margaret McKenna. Graham Orams

Councillor mall talks proposed

MARGARET McKenna believes Valley residents deserve better access to their councillors.

The Clarence Valley councillor wants council to adopt a proposal that would enable ratepayers to have regular, informal talks with their elected representatives at local shopping and community centres.

Cr McKenna said her proposal had so far received a lukewarm response from councillors but she hoped it would be adopted at next week's full council meeting in Maclean.

“Two councillors have now said they feel it isn't necessary and that the formal procedures in place are adequate,” she said.

“But I thought we needed to give (town) ratepayers the same opportunity (as those visited during remote councillor tours) to have a chat with their councillors.

“We do have public meetings once or twice a year to discuss specific items such as the Budget, however I feel that we could give residents an opportunity to speak one-on-one, and on any issue that is concerning them at the time.

“It is something I have been considering doing personally and thought I would see if other councillors are interested. If not, I will proceed with my own plans.”

Cr McKenna said the informal meetings would be for minor issues that didn't require staff involvement.

She said many ratepayers didn't feel comfortable fronting council meetings or contacting councillors.

“Many residents and ratepayers do not know their councillors well enough to contact them by phone or stop them in the street,” she said.

“I have been told (people) feel they are ‘intruding' on councillors' personal time.

“I work in an environment where I'm seeing the average person who may not have email access, or who don't know council procedures.

“Some of these people are uncomfortable phoning council, or attending a meeting in the mayor's office or council chambers.”

Cr McKenna said her proposal would be an opportunity for council to advise the public of things that were happening in the Valley.

“We get complaints that ratepayers don't know when workshops are happening or when skate parks are going in particular locations, and things like that,” she said.

“This would make council information more accessible for our ratepayers.”

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