Tree report inspires review of council policies

THE CLARENCE Valley Council general manager's report that led to the imminent demise of Maclean's controversial camphor laurel trees has inspired a review of policies.

At Tuesday's meeting an internal council report on a review of a number of council policies including its code of meeting practice.

Cr Karen Toms took the opportunities to move for a review of the policy of presenting general manager's reports straight to council, bypassing the committee process.

With a bit of help from other councillors, a motion was made to accept the policy review, except the review of general manager items, which will be the subject of a further report to the council.+

An amendment from Cr Margaret McKenna to amend this to a review of part 3 of the code of meeting practice was defeated, returning the debate to Cr Toms' original proposal.

Cr Arthur Lysaught was not happy.

He was worried this could delay general manager's reports coming to council for a month.

He said this practice was unnecessary for someone who is already "the most scrutinised man in the community".

Cr Andrew Baker said he would like to take the review further and tighten up the code of meeting practice around the way council handled deputations from the public.

"We should not allow people to speak again and again and again on the same issues," he said.

"We seem relatively relaxed about giving lots of discretion to lots of people from the same organisation to say lots of the same things.

"We're part-time officials who set ourselves up to deal with full-time deputation givers.

"We need to say repeating the same thing four or five times by related people does not give the issue more weight."

Mayor Richie Williamson said he echoed some of Cr Baker's sentiments.

He said the general manager must have the ability to make reports direct to the council, and, if necessary, the council could direct the general manager to put his reports through the committee process.

Cr McKenna said the report on the Maclean camphor laurel trees showed how a report straight from the general manager to the council was unfair to the community.

"The item came straight to the council and the community's chance to have a say was cut off," she said.

Cr Toms' motion was carried 8-1.