INDEPENDENT candidate for council and mayor Phil Constable believes he can improve the way things are done at Eurobodalla Shire Council.
Mr Constable has a long connection to Midtown Narooma as he has been the owner of the Mitre 10 business for 20 years, while his father built and operated the Narooma butchery just across the road and his mother was a school teacher at the Narooma primary school for more than 30 years.
The “catalyst” for him running was when the council voted to impose charges on Narooma ratepayers for works on the internal Batemans Bay road network, which also happened for the Batemans Bay sewerage scheme.
“When it came to our town, no funding was coming south and it was back to the bad old days where the southern end of the shire was missing out,” Mr Constable said.
Regarding the Local Environment Plan (LEP), he was critical of the amount of consultation and even organised his own workshop in Narooma in attempt to provide information for realtors, valuers, bank managers and others.
Council then increased its own consultation meetings, he said.
“I shall ensure that the review process for the LEP, promised to be undertaken between three and five years of gazettal, is actually completed within the life of this next council,” he said.
“This will make sure the review shall be overseen by an experienced Council; in a transparent manner with an informed public, and in the time frame specified.”
He differentiated himself from the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association candidates in that he did not believe council had acted dishonestly or with any corruption, but rather that the system could be improved.
He said he was hearing that community has lost faith in their council and he would like to see the management structure changed.
“I don’t like the centralisation of council,” he said.
He was critical of the mayor sitting on so many committees and said these responsibilities should be shared around.
If elected mayor, he pledges not to sit on any committees.
Even though he was a businessman himself, he said he would also like to see “simplified financial reporting outcomes, so that one does not have to be an accounting professional or a business person to have an understanding.”
Another concern was the actions of the retiring council in selling-off parks and open space for short-term financial advantage.
“This is a once-off action that does not address the core financial woes.”
Mr Constable said he wanted to initiate change, and restore trust, securing a Council that was approachable, transparent in its decision making and fully focused on its role as service provider for residents and ratepayers.
“At present we have a Council Staff suffering the burden of too much delegated authority, and copping the flak for making decisions that we elected our Councillors to make,” he said.
A full review of the powers delegated to staff by earlier council was required.
Mr Constable said he still had a few polling booths that required manning on election day; and invited anyone interested in handing out his how-to-vote flyers to contact him.