Bega Valley council looks to ‘culture change’

THE Bega Valley Shire Council has acknowledged some failings in its communication practices and said there is need for a “culture change”.

The comments came in response to several questions from the floor at Wednesday’s public forum with councillors and senior BVSC staff members.

Jo Dodds, from the Friends of Littleton Gardens group, began the open question time with concerns over the council’s removal of trees without prior public notification.

“I’d like to you to reflect on the practices within council and ask what’s being done to address what looks like a pattern [of not consulting with the public],” Ms Dodds said.

“Can we be assured it is being dealt with?”

Mayor Bill Taylor responded by again publicly stating his “annoyance” the system did not work, despite an earlier undertaking the public would be notified in advance of certain works.

He said it was an ongoing process and that Ms Dodds’ offer of getting involved was welcome.

The removal of several trees from the town hall site had been approved through the DA process and was operational work not for public consultation, but the council acknowledged that such action was in the public interest.

Acting general manager Leanne Barnes said there needed to be a change in culture.

“We have very committed staff and workers who have a job to do and are keen to get it done,” she said.

“[However,] we have to change the culture that Jeff [BVSC communications coordinator Jeff Donne] is sometimes the last to know.”

Both Ms Dodds and Bega Valley Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary John Richardson said they appreciated the council used the term “culture change”.

“I ask that the council reflect on the importance of leading by example when effecting culture change,” Mr Richardson said.

“A change of culture needs to start with council and senior management.”

* More on the BVSC roving workshop and public forum next week.

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