A Code of Conduct matter concerning two Bega Valley Shire councillors was moved into confidential session on Wednesday afternoon despite a request from the floor by ex-mayor Michael Britten for it to be heard in public.
The matter relates to the proposed Cattle Bay Marina in Eden and in particular to a request by developers Eden Resort Hotel Pty Ltd for a modification to the development consent for the marina, and the discussion about the item, at the December 14, 2016 council meeting.
Also discussed in the closed session was the 142-144 Imlay Street Tender Approval as well as a Romfam Investments request potentially concerning an Aldi supermarket in Merimbula.
Prior to moving into confidential session Mr Britten addressed the chamber saying the sections of the Local Government Act referred to in the business paper relating to transfer to closed session, pre-date the code adopted last year.
Mr Britten argued that the Code of Conduct matter should be “referred to a public council meeting for debate and final determination” because “the paramount issue was that a reasoned debate and decision is reached in the public interest, no different to an open judiciary system”.
“I submit in the circumstances where a reviewer does make a recommendation, I believe it is in the public interest and in the interest of the councillor concerned that the matter should be discussed opening and in a public meeting, and debated in a public meeting so everyone knows exactly what it concerns,” Mr Britten said.
Mr Britten also suggested that as the Imlay Street tender was about the Hotel Australasia, it was in the community’s interest for it to be spoken about openly.
However, councillors Mitch Nadin, Jo Dodds and Sharon Tapscott were quick to respond, informing Mr Britten, and “reassuring the public”, that the decision to go into closed session wasn’t made lightly.
“We make every effort to consider all issues in full view of the public except where we have no other option,” Cr Dodds said.