City elders lauded for duty

RARE HONOUR: Tamworth councillors Russell Webb, left, and Phil Betts display the awards they received at the Local Government NSW Annual Conference this week for their service to local government.
RARE HONOUR: Tamworth councillors Russell Webb, left, and Phil Betts display the awards they received at the Local Government NSW Annual Conference this week for their service to local government.

TWO Tamworth gladiators of local government have been honoured for their decades of service.

Cr Russell Webb and Cr Phil Betts from Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) received a special medallion for their 22 years of service, at the Local Government NSW Annual Conference on Monday night.

Both men were elected to Parry Shire Council in 1991 and have served continuously since, winning places on TRC when it was formed in 2004.

Cr Webb, who is in his third term as deputy mayor of TRC, said it had been a richly challenging and rewarding period of his life.

“It’s been a great time and I’ve enjoyed working for the community,” Cr Webb said.

“I sometimes ask myself why I’ve continued on for so long, but I’ve always been involved in the community and I’ve always wanted the best outcomes for it.

“The community doesn’t always agree with your decisions but when you know you’ve delivered for the greater good, it’s very rewarding.”

Cr Webb, 60, said the council’s decision to take a financial gamble and build AELEC in 2008 was among the most gratifying of his career.

For Cr Betts, it was a near-catastrophe that catapulted him into local government.

“I became involved in the Rural Fire Service and was part of a major event, and that gave me a real sense of community pride,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference and represent people.”

Cr Betts served as mayor in Parry Shire for the five years before its amalgamation and cited that period as the highlight of his political career.

“Being part of the amalgamation of five councils into one has been the most rewarding,” he said.

“It was a huge community consultation process and a lot of work to bring the community along with us.”

Both men were undecided on whether they would recontest at the 2016 local government elections.

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