Cessnock councillors complain of delays

CESSNOCK City Council's executive team has come under fire from angry councillors who say they appear to be on a "go slow campaign" when it comes to following through council resolutions.

Councillors demanded answers from senior staff at this week's meeting.

They were grilled over the amount of time it was taking to respond to matters such as reporting on the cost of consultants and the implementation of a staff survey.

Cr Bob Pynsent said he was concerned managers had become "too preoccupied" with legal issues at the expense of the day-to-day running of the council. Cr Pynsent asked for a report on consultancy fees eight weeks ago, but was told by council group leader Mike Brady at Wednesday night's meeting that he had had no time to produce the report.

Cr Pynsent was supported in his motion for staff to place a higher priority on outstanding items raised at council meetings.

"There has been no hurry to bring information forward on consultancy fees and I don't know if it is a stalling tactic or what," Cr Pynsent said.

"The people need to know what is happening, particularly when we are at such a crucial time in the budget process, and to say we're too busy is unacceptable."

Cr Graham Smith wanted answers on why a staff survey to determine the morale within the council had not been carried out.

"This was supposed to be finalised as a matter of urgency as a requirement of the general manager's performance agreement," Cr Smith said.

"It was the subject of a mayoral minute six weeks ago and I was told that an independent party has not been appointed yet."

Mayor Alison Davey told Wednesday night's meeting that she had phoned and emailed "providers" for the survey, but had not received a response.

Cr Neil Gorman said the councillors were asking for things, but not getting answers. He wanted to know if senior staff had obtained the Wine Country Tourism model of the Vineyards Visioning Statement.

"It's such an important document and we were promised we would have it the next day," he said.

Olsen defends Mayor Davey

CESSNOCK councillor Ian Olsen has jumped to the defence of mayor Alison Davey, who was accused of falling asleep during NSW Supreme Court proceedings she initiated against 10 of her fellow councillors.

Cr Olsen contacted the Newcastle Herald yesterday to dispute allegations made by deputy mayor Cr Cordelia Burcham that Cr Davey was asleep through most of the May 7 court hearing.

". . . I was sitting there with her and she was wide awake the whole time," Cr Olsen said.

He forecast that ratepayers would have to put up with the tense nature of the council until the September elections.

"Ratepayers should be made aware that these councillors have been offered the chance to stop the court case now, until the investigation by ICAC is complete," he said.

"They have the opportunity to stop wasting the ratepayers' money. The ball is in their court."

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