Cessnock councillor wants MP out

CESSNOCK Greens councillor James Ryan has told member for Cessnock Kerry Hickey to put up or shut up over the council's planning debacle and has called for his resignation.

Councillors will be asked at a meeting next Wednesday night to back Cr Ryan, who said Mr Hickey should resign on the grounds that he was politically motivated and unable to have an objective view on issues relating to the council.

The Herald reported last month that Planning Minister Tony Kelly wrote to the council, demanding that it show cause why its planning powers should not be removed after he revealed it was the most complained about council in NSW.

Mr Hickey says he is receiving up to eight complaints a day about the council's planning department.

He said he has written to councillors and arranged mediation between the council's general manager, Bernie Mortomore, and developers but to no avail.

"I had no alternative but to go to the Minister," he said.

"Cr Ryan continues to make politics out of this when he should be doing what he is paid for and that's to run the council."

Cr Ryan said yesterday that Mr Hickey had not tried to establish whether complaints he passed onto Mr Kelly could be justified or had substance.

"Of 10 letters [of complaint] to Kerry Hickey from residents, which the Planning Minister has cited as reasons for taking action, four are not primarily complaints about council," Cr Ryan said.

He said in one case - which involved a dispute between neighbours over a right of way, and where the Ombudsman's office found the council had acted carefully and reasonably - Mr Hickey and Mr Kelly still claimed the council was at fault.

Cr Ryan said Mr Hickey had said for some time that he wanted all complaints about the council to go to him, and that Labor insiders said he has been asking for complaints at branch meetings.

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