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COMMENT: COUNCIL'S FINANCIAL FIASCO Featured
25 June 2021 Posted by 

COMMENT: COUNCIL'S FINANCIAL FIASCO

Public enquiry must INCLUDE business
DALLAS SHERRIGHAM
THE Public Inquiry in Central Coast Council’s financial disaster will begin shortly, but the opportunity for businesses to specifically give evidence has not been included.
Coast business and development suffered the most from the Council’s roughshod reign with major projects slowed or even stopped because of the nationwide backlash against the council meltdown.
 
A leading real estate agent who did not want to be named said he knew of two major projects in Gosford CBD which collapsed because investors were worried about the Coast’s worsening reputation.
 
“Let’s put it this way, there were 14 cranes working in Gosford at the start of Central Coast Council,  I now count just one.”
 
The general consensus is the Inquiry should have looked into Council’s interaction with business and whether the worsening perceived negative image of the voting bloc of eight councillors had a detrimental effect on business and development.
 
For example, Council inexplicably voted against any State Significant developments on the Coast. This put a stop to the Northside Private Hospital.
 
Ms Roslyn McCulloch has been appointed as Commissioner to hold the Public Inquiry.
 
The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry including looking at whether the governing body met its obligations in a manner that maximised the success of gaining efficiencies and financial savings from the merger process, whether the governing body disregarded the financial consequences of its decisions, and if the governing body’s decisions since 2017 contributed to the financial position which the Council now finds itself in.
 
It will also consider if, as far as possible, that decisions taken by it had regard to the financial sustainability of the council and that it kept under review the performance of the council, including that council spending was responsible and sustainable by aligning general revenue and expenses.
 
The Inquiry will also look at any other matter that warrants mention, particularly those that may impact on the effective administration of Council’s functions and responsibilities or the community’s confidence in the Council being able to do so.
 
The Commissioner may make recommendations as the Commissioner sees fit having regard to the outcomes of the Inquiry, including whether all civic offices at Central Coast Council should be declared vacant. 
 
Submissions have been invited from persons with an interest in putting forward points of view relating to the Terms of Reference. Submissions received by the Inquiry will be made available to the public at the Commissioner’s discretion.
 
It was noted that the Commissioner was not obliged to automatically give a right of appearance to all persons wishing to appear before her.
 
However, some Coast businesspeople believe the Commissioner should call on business leaders such as Chambers of Commerce to give their view on Council’s performance. 
 
Details of the venue and times of the public hearings will be announced in due course.
 
Dallas Sherringham is Associate Editor at Access News Australia. E: dallas@accessnews.com.au


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Michael Walls
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