Ex-mayor back in the chair

General manager Greg Winton with Cr Jessica Cosgrove
at the start of tonight’s council meeting.

FORMER mayor Martyn Evans made an unexpected return to the chairman’s seat at tonight’s special meeting of the Derwent Valley Council.

With mayor Ben Shaw absent, and two elected members including the deputy mayor sidelined due to potential conflicts of interest, councillors looked to their longest-serving colleague to chair part of the meeting.

Deputy mayor Jessica Cosgrove had declared the meeting open shortly after 6pm, and general manager Greg Winton explained that mayor Ben Shaw was unable to attend and would be recorded as an apology for the meeting.

Just before the meeting there had been some discussion about this being the first time a Derwent Valley Council would be chaired by a woman. Cr Evans said this was not the case, as the late Judy Bromfield had chaired at least one council meeting in recent memory. From the public gallery, Russell Alphey suggested it was probably the first time there had been a female majority at the council table, with four female councillors and three males in attendance.

Cr Cosgrove then called for any declarations of pecuniary interest relating to items on tonight’s agenda. Both Cr Cosgrove and Cr Rachel Power declared perceived conflicts of interest with an agenda item relating to low-cost and free public camping.

For the benefit of the new councillors, Mr Winton explained that the purpose of the special meeting was to vote on the motions that will be debated at tomorrow’s meeting of the Local Government Association (LGAT) in Launceston. “This council in the past, depending on the circumstances, would either go through each of these items individually and … on occasions the council have decided that they can deal with a number of them at the same time as a block,” Mr Winton said.

Cr Paul Belcher then moved that the entire LGAT agenda be dealt with as a whole, which was seconded by Cr Power. At this stage Cr Cosgrove then left the room due to her declared interest in one of the items, and she was quickly followed by Cr Power.

Former mayor Martyn Evans, right, made an unexpected
return to the chairman’s role at tonight’s meeting.

Mr Winton then called for another councillor to take the chair, noting that the council had traditionally called on the longest-serving elected member to take the chair in similar circumstances. Cr Evans took the chair under mock protest and called for a new seconder for Cr Belcher’s motion as the previous seconder – Cr Power – had left the chamber. Cr Salt obliged.

Cr Belcher said most of the recommendations in the agenda documents were to support various motions at the LGAT or to note the information provided, with little need for debate.

Cr Salt asked whether the item relating to low-cost and free public camping had any bearing on the council and its caravan park and camping area. Mr Winton said the report was dealing with the issue at a statewide level and the application of the principle of competitive neutrality on council-owned camping facilities.

That was the extent of the discussion of the 57-page LGAT agenda, with no comment on items dealing with councillors’ allowances, weather bureau staffing, bicycle infrastructure, 21st century councils, proposed changes to the Burials and Cremation Act, review of the Local Government Act, rating of independent living units, Federal Election lobbying, planning reform, waste management, and next year’s State Budget, among others.

With the motion to agree with all the recommendations put and carried by the five councillors in the room, Crs Cosgrove and Power returned to the chamber and Cr Cosgrove declared the meeting closed at 6.11pm.

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