Labor councillor weighs in over Byron Greens spat

Byron Shire ALP councillor Paul Spooner. Photo supplied

Byron Shire ALP councillor Paul Spooner. Photo supplied

Cr Paul Spooner, who ran on a Labor platform for Byron Shire Council, has come to the defence of staff and Greens mayor, Simon Richardson.

Last week, The Echo reported on the division that had emerged between former Greens councillor Tom Tabart and the mayor, with Tabart claiming that governance was never the mayor’s strong point.

Cr Paul Spooner told The Echo, ‘While it’s kind of amusing to see a Greens ex-councillor have a public stoush with a current Greens mayor, it also points to a problem with the Greens party – they often can’t see the forest for the trees.’

‘This Shire has much bigger issues to deal with than whether Simon is meddling in the day-to-day operational matters of Council.

‘Deciding on an appropriate rate determination comes to mind.

‘I would prefer Simon to be focused on the work of a mayor that really matters – “to be the principal spokesperson of the governing body, including representing the views of the council as to its local priorities,” (section 226, Local Government Act 1995).

‘This includes representing our community priorities to both state and federal governments so that maybe, just maybe, we can get some things done.

‘The day-to-day running of the council should be left in the hands of the general manager. That’s what he or she is employed to do.

‘For a mayor to get his hands dirty in this way will lead to staff confusion, resistance and policy inaction. 

‘Not the sort of outcomes our community elects its representatives to achieve.

‘I have now watched Simon in his role as mayor up close for over four years.

‘I believe we are lucky to have him as mayor.

‘While I don’t always agree with his priorities, I do believe he understands the proper role of mayor as leading the policy arm of Council.

‘He understands the role of the elected body of Council is to employ and supervise the general manager – not do his job for him.

Dedicated and experienced GM

‘Residents should be comfortable in the fact that we have a dedicated, experienced GM who lives in the Shire and works tirelessly to ensure value-for money-outcomes from the rates you entrust him and his staff to work with. 

‘Unsophisticated criticism of both these guys’ performance is like throwing marshmallow into the fire –you just end up with a shrivelled gooey heap of nonsense.

‘If you are in any doubt as to the proper roles of both the general manager and mayor, the Local Government Act 1995 should be your informed guide, not the disaffected views of an old Greens warhorse.

‘Section 335 of the Local Government Act 1995 reads, ‘The general manager of a council has the following functions: 

‘(a) to conduct the day-to-day management of the council in accordance with the strategic plans, programs, strategies and policies of the council.

‘Section 226 of the Act reads, “The role of the mayor is as follows: 

(j) to advise, consult with and provide strategic direction to the general manager in relation to the implementation of the strategic plans and policies of the council”.’

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