Councillor dumped from committees

Colac Otway Shire councillor Chris Smith and mayor Lyn Russell.

Colac Otway Shire councillor Chris Smith and mayor Lyn Russell.

COLAC’S civic leaders have dumped a councillor as their representative on five community committees.

Colac Otway Shire Council this week removed Cr Chris Smith from the youth council, the saleyards committee, the Friends of the Colac Botanic Gardens, the Ondit quarry committee and the Community Hub Inc committee.

The decision to replace Cr Smith on the saleyards committee with Cr Frank Buchanan came despite a call from the committee to keep Cr Smith as a member.

Saleyards committee member Serge Beani said he was “surprised” the council removed Cr Smith from the committee.

“I am disappointed that Chris Smith is no longer on the advisory committee,” Mr Beani said.

“He had the full support of the advisory committee,” he said.

But Mr Beani said Cr Buchanan would do a good job on the committee.

“I welcome Frank Buchannan to the advisory group,” he said.

“I think they should have left the two of them on it.”

The council’s move comes the month after a bitter row erupted between Cr Smith and council representatives when Cr Smith released the council’s 2012-13 financial report before the report’s official release.

Tensions also ran high last month when mayor Lyn Russell said she would like to see Cr Smith attend more of council’s private briefings and workshops.

He attended seven of 24 briefings and workshops in the past year, although he attended all public meetings in that time.

Cr Russell said this week council representatives on committees had a responsibility to report back to the council at briefings and workshops.

“If you are on advisory committee then you report back to the council on anything that has implications for the council,” she said.

Cr Stephen Hart said it was good to give different councillors an opportunity to represent the council on community committees.

“We’re representing the council, not our personal view, and we have a responsibility to return that to the council,” Cr Hart said.

Cr Smith said councillors had an ulterior motive for removing him from the committees.

“It is my belief that that is not based on ability or what’s best for council, but purely personally motivated,” he said.

“There are limited opportunities for councillors to show their displeasure with their fellow councillors.

“One of the few ways is to not allow them to represent council on committees.

“I feel disappointed that the reasoning for the change was not about what’s best for the community.”

Cr Smith said he would continue to work with the community in other ways, such as by rejoining the botanic gardens committee as a member of the public.

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