Pay up for fig fiasco, says Buman

NEWCASTLE councillors should be held financially responsible for wasting ratepayers’ money on Laman Street, says Cr Aaron Buman who has lodged a motion calling for an investigation into ‘‘deliberate delays’’.

Cr Buman lodged a notice of motion this week calling for an investigation with a view to surcharging councillors ‘‘in respect to culpable negligence or misconduct’’.

His call comes as Labor councillors conceded defeat in the long-running dispute, citing a lack of numbers within the council chamber and ongoing costs.

Also yesterday, Cr Bob Cook issued a document, The Litany of Lies, which says the Save Our Figs group should be held accountable for the $1.5million fiasco.

Cr Cook’s document responds to 50 specific claims made by supporters of the fig trees, which he says are ‘‘misinformation’’.

‘‘Some of these mistruths may appear insignificant, but considered as a whole they demonstrate and represent the deliberate campaign by Save Our Figs Inc to distort the public perception of this issue,’’ Cr Cook wrote.

‘‘The people responsible for this should be made accountable for their behaviour.’’

Cr Buman said a surcharge might create more responsible actions from councillors and the general manager.

Save Our Figs spokeswoman Caity Raschke said the group had real concerns, and still disputed the council’s contention that the trees were a risk.

She said she had not lied or misled anyone.

‘‘I think the amount of money spent on the issue has been an effective tool used by the council,’’ Dr Raschke said.

‘‘For $10,000, the council could have had an independent assessment. With leadership like that, I fear for this city.’’

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