Councillors’ reaction to the Ombudsman’s report, overseas travel approvals, the Alex Hills pub upgrade and Donald Simpson Centre funding cuts are discussed in this report on Council activities.
Cr Elliott fired up about Ombudsman’s report
At its general meeting on 7 June 2017 Redland City Council adopted a policy on funding of legal action on behalf of employees or Councillors.
This was described by Council officers as the final action required to close out matters raised by the Queensland Ombudsman in his report: The Redland City Council defamation report.
During discussion of the new policy, and the Ombudsman’s report, a number of councillors expressed their concerns about actions taken by Council in 2015 in reaction to what the Ombudsman described as relative mild social media criticism.
Cr Elliott described Council’s actions as appalling, one of the worst things he has seen in Council in 20 years.
He was particularly outraged about Council’s action in writing to one of the resident’s employers , describing this as a “dog act”.
Some councillors expressed concern that councillors had not been kept informed about Council’s actions. A couple of councillors commented that the first they knew about this matter was when they read the Ombudsman’s report, published on 5 January 2017.
Crs Elliot and Boglary also said that councillors should have had input into the Council’s response to the Ombudsman’s report.
Three councillors (Elliott, Bishop and Boglary) expressly apologised to the community for Council’s actions.
Conversely, Cr Talty said that she believed that the actions taken by all staff at the time were in the best interests of the organisation.
Mayor Williams said that there had been “some learnings” but she did not clarify her role in the matter or express any remorse for Council’s actions towards residents.
A matter left unresolved was any mechanism to ensure that councillors would have oversight of any such matters in future.
Discussion about this item (item 11.2.3) commences at 19 minutes on the video recording.
More information is available in the Bulletin report: Redland councillor launches a ferocious attack over council action on Facebook comments
Alexandra Hills Hotel expansion a “dream run”
Many Councillors attended the official opening of new accommodation units and conference facilities at the Alexandra Hills Hotel on 7 June. According to various Facebook posts they had a wonderful time.
The Bulletin reported: “A $15.5 million upgrade to the Alexandra Hills Hotel has been launched, with canapes, champagne and a swish party.”
A spokesman for the hotel’s owner (McGuires’ Hotels group) said: “…We started this project two years ago and to be here tonight shows what a dream run it has been. We had great cooperation from Redland City Council.”
The dream run included very generous financial incentives made available under Council’s Tourism Accommodation Incentives program which was approved at a general meeting on 30 July 2014.
During detailed planning discussions at a pre-lodgement meeting with Council two months later, the developer advised its “firm intention” to apply to Council for “consideration under this Incentives Program”. These incentives included 100% discount of Council’s development assessment fees and infrastructure charges worth several hundred thousand dollars.
Owners of the Alexandra Hills Hotel were notable supporters of Mayor Karen Williams at the 2016 local government elections. She received a $4,000 political donation from the Colmslie Hotel (another business owned by McGuires’ Hotels) on 7 March 2016.
Petition about Donald Simpson Centre
Redland City Council is being petitioned to reconsider its decision to cut operational funding of the Donald Simpson Community Centre.
An on-line petition to restore operational funding to current levels has been initiated through Go Petition.
At its meeting on 19 April 2017 the Council decided on a 6/5 vote to cut operational funding to the Donald Simpson Community Centre by 50% to $50,000 in 2017/18 and provide no operational funding support thereafter.
- Crs Mitchell, Edwards, Elliott, Talty, Gleeson and Williams voted FOR the motion.
- Crs Boglary, Gollè, Hewlett, Huges and Bishop voted AGAINST the motion.
Overseas travel approval rules relaxed
Overseas travel by Mayor Karen Williams to Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China was approved at the Redland City Council’s general meeting on 7 June 2017.
Councillors also approved changes to Council policies so in future such travel requests would not need to be approved by at a Council general meeting.
More information is available in the Bulletin report: Redland councillors ease regulations on training and trip expenses
Consultation about trails in the Eastern Escarpment
Exciting and challenging new recreational trails are being planned for bushwalkers, horse riders, cyclists and orienteers.
Community and user groups are invited to join in early planning for recreational and land use upgrades to the Eastern Escarpment Conservation Area fronting West Mount, Cotton Road, Sheldon.
The public is invited to attend a consultation evening scheduled for Tuesday 13 June from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Redlands IndigiScapes Centre, 17 Runnymede Rd, Capalaba.
More information is available on the Redland City Council’s website.
Redlands2030 – 12 June 2017