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March 1, 2021

Council to ditch dispute committee

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The current mechanism by which Byron Shire residents can have their cases heard – the Dispute Committee – looks set to be replaced in a policy overhaul, which is now on public exhibition on the council’s website.

In the past, a ratepayer in dispute with council could elect to have their DA or compliance complaint considered by the Council’s Dispute Resolution Committee.

As reported in Echonetdaily in October last year, John Anderson, aka Fast Buck$, submitted his long-running squabble on illegal dwellings and his MO (multiple occupancy) application to the committee, although it had not dealt with any disputes for around seven years.

Despite Mr Anderson’s recent submission, Council has so far failed to reactivate the committee and has instead put up a Draft Amended Code of Meeting Practice document to replace the current policy.

It aims to encompass all Council’s code of practice for meetings and committees.

Deep within the complex 46-page document are Council’s plans to replace the Dispute Resolution Committee and create a Planning Review Committee and Strategic Planning Committee.

The Planning Review Committee appears to deal specifically with development applications (DAs), while compliance matters are not mentioned.

The Strategic Planning Committee will ‘… lead research and policy direction on key strategic issues for Byron Shire’.

Another aim according to the charter is to ‘… facilitate strategic policy development on a range of strategic issues concerning Byron Shire Council and is to determine strategic policy’.

Fast Buck$ ‘special’

Mr Anderson told Echonetdaily that his case, among only a few others, is ‘special’.

‘My case was the only one dealt with in confidential meetings,’ he said, ‘along with an illegal dwelling case in Myocum, and now the more recent holiday letting cases.

‘As far as I am aware these are the only cases that have been delegated to the general manager.’

Mr Anderson also claims the current crop of councillors are lazy.

‘They are making it up as they go along.

‘When it’s a legal matter, they always vote for the general manager to manage it – they wipe their hands of any responsibility.

‘Also councillors don’t do site visits anymore, so they are only reliant on what staff are saying.

‘When I was on Council we inspected properties and met with owners.’

Council had not responded to Echonetdaily’s questions by the time of going to press, possibly owing to public holidays.

Submissions for the draft policy close Friday 10 February 2012.

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