Legal threat cancels council extraordinary meeting
A THREAT of legal action from a Clarence Valley councillor has led to the cancellation of an extraordinary council meeting in Grafton this afternoon.
Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons said a decision to cancel the meeting was made on receipt of a letter from solicitors representing Cr Debrah Novak.
The meeting had been called to demand Cr Novak apologise to regional air carrier REX Airlines for comments she made about the airline during last month's council meeting.
Cr Novak told Rex management it needed to "pull its finger out"
On June 4 the council received correspondence from Rex indicating despite council waiving 100 per cent of the head tax it collected from the airline, it would cease to operate its Grafton service from July 3.
It cited "hostility" from councillors as its reason for cutting the service.
Cr Simmons said the letter called for an injunction against holding the meeting because the matter should have been dealt with during the May meeting and not have been brought up at a separate meeting.
The Mayor said he had similar misgivings and had contacted the NSW Office of Local Government for advice.
"I expect I'll get that advice tomorrow (Tuesday) morning," Cr Simmons said.
But he said Cr Novak was not off the hook and the matter would most likely appear as a report from general manager Ashley Lindsay at next week's council meeting.
"It might have to be in a different format, but there are still issues here the council must deal with," he said.
Meanwhile business groups have expressed their dismay at REX's decision and Cr Novak's role in it.
The South Grafton Progress Association has called on Cr Novak to stand down from council if she's not prepared to apologise for her comments, association president Robin Gipp and secretary Robert Cook wrote in a letter to The Daily Examiner.
"Should Cr Novak not rescind her comments for the betterment of the community, we suggest she should stand down until the issue with Rex is resolved in the affirmative.
Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Carol Pachos has written to the council urging it do what it can to get the airline to overturn its decision.
"We strongly encourage Clarence Valley Council to take whatever measures are within their power to keep this vital service for the business community of Grafton and indeed the Clarence Valley as a whole," she wrote.