“Power to the Community” is the buzz phrase for this year’s Local Government Week and yet local councillors who are championing community input about a tourist destination name for our region are being negatively branded by some.
Councillor Keegan, in council meeting debate on July 25, denounced manoeuvres by other councillors to have greater opportunity for community input saying that he was angered by, what he considered, attempts to delay the adoption of the “Barrington Coast” destination name and that these attempts were a sign of lack of community leadership.
However when Crs Bell, Christensen, Epov, McWilliams and Smith opposed the thing so that there could be more community input, did they not show leadership (and does not the same apply to those councillors who have moved the rescission motion)?
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The community power of these consultative councillors may be measured by the collective primary votes they attracted in last year’s election. It was 25,137 which is about 700 more than the collective votes of the majority six councillors (including the mayor) who were happy to adopt the “Barrington Coast” brand name following the workshop and consultation involvement of only a small bevy of (undoubtedly, well meaning) businesses.
My observation about primary votes is not meant to challenge the conventional way that representative democracy works (and should work) in council meetings any more than Cr Keegan’s disinclination to community consultation need be taken to challenge the section 232 provision in the Local Government Act which says that one of the roles of a councillor is “to facilitate communication between the local community and the governing body”.
Let us now recite, with humility, “Power to the Community”.