A CONTROVERSIAL register that would force councillors and staff to divulge dealings with developers has been vetoed after it caused friction in council chambers.
A report explored whether Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) had an issue with transparency, particularly with developers, and looked at how its complaint statistics compared to local governments across NSW.
One point the councillors did agree on is that perception is everything.
The register was Cr Mark Rodda's idea, who was disappointed no guidance had been given to develop an accountability policy.
"In relation to the official statistics pertaining to complaints, they look good but hide the grizzles in the community by people who know they will be required to have solid evidence if they make a complaint, otherwise their concerns will fall on deaf ears," he said.
"We didn't have to investigate the records of other local government areas or how many LGA's have such a register.
"I had hoped we would show leadership as a region that values transparency and accountability and truly is open for business."
The report showed TRC received three complaints for governance and council misconduct from 2019 to 2020, compared to Coffs Harbour's 97 in the same areas.
There are no legal requirements to disclose developer meetings.
However, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) released a report last month, after an investigation into the regulation of lobbying and influence in NSW found "the local government sector faces considerable risk of undue influence and should be regulated by the Lobbying of Government Officials Act".
Cr Juanita Wilson said the suggestion TRC had ever lacked transparency was confronting.
"I think it's quite damaging to organisations to cast aspersions, but no doubt the research and the time put into this [report] has shown otherwise," she said.
"Perception does count but so does reality, and the local community has every right to feel confident in the way TRC is working, the integrity and the will of the staff and organisation to get things done legally, appropriately and with respect."
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