A FORMER Tamworth councillor has called on the regional council to be more open about its dealings, in the wake of public criticism of the sale of a park to a developer.
Esther Halliday, pictured, believes Tamworth Regional Council could avoid some of the public backlash over a proposal for a Woolworths and Dan Murphy’s liquor store to be built over parkland at the Paradise end of Peel St if it revealed more about its moves beforehand.
She said suggestions under-performing council spaces might also be facing sell-offs were of concern for the public.
Mrs Halliday served for 24 years as an alderman/councillor with the old city council and retired at the 2004 election.
But she says local government in Tamworth is less open now than it used to be and needs to show more accountability to its residents and ratepayers.
“How are we expected to know which councillors to vote for when we don’t know what they are doing or seeing?” Mrs Halliday said.
“They don’t have that accountability. I don’t know their own feelings on anything on issues or matters, or what they are doing or supporting.
“We can read things sometimes in The Leader; often people get upset about the media at times in the way it can be intrusive, but really it seems to be our only contact now.
“We don’t know if there is any discussion going on, or whether they are supportive or not about some matters.
“I understand there are some things that have to be confidential – I served for 24 years on council, so I do know there are things that can’t be discussed as openly – but I do think this council has to be more open and consultative.”
Mrs Halliday served as a chairwoman and member of a host of community, social and cultural committees.
She has also taken a swipe at the lack of detail being posted in the council’s business paper for its fortnightly meetings.
“That’s another gripe. Those business papers don’t seem to have as much in them these days,” she said.
Deputy mayor Russell Webb agreed that recent council papers were much thinner than they once were, but he understood this was because more smaller items were being dealt with by staff by way of a delegated authority and not subject to council consideration in meetings.
He said important or major pieces of council business, particularly controversial or high-profile topics, were still being debated in open discussions.
Council governance and administration director Robert Charlesworth said there was nothing sinister or secret about recent papers, it simply reflected the fact there had not been as many development applications and other matters to be reported.
Things had been quiet, he said, and it was something that was cyclical.