THE Derwent Valley Council has today lost its most experienced elected member with the resignation of Councillor Peter Binny. Elected in November 2022 for his second stint as a councillor, Mr Binny resigned from the position early this morning (Saturday).
Mr Binny told New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News that he had resigned in writing to acting general manager Ron Sanderson at about 7.30am and his email had been acknowledged. Mr Binny said he did not intend to make any further comment.
A retired property surveyor, Mr Binny had previously served on the council in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was a former deputy mayor and one-time acting mayor during that first 13-year period on the then New Norfolk Council.
Mr Binny had a renewed interest in council affairs in retirement and he stood in the mayoral by-election held in early 2022 following the resignation of Ben Shaw. He was unsuccessful in that attempt but the votes he received encouraged him to run again later that year when the full council election was held. He ran a high-profile campaign and established an office in central High St for the election period. He was elected as a councillor but was again unsuccessful in his bid for the mayoralty.
He maintained that high profile in office and was a driver behind the current proposal to build housing at the disused Kensington Park Racecourse. He told last week’s council meeting that the government’s offer to buy the land was vastly under valuation and called for a second valuation of the land before proceeding. Mr Binny has also been a strong supporter of the New Norfolk Rowing Club in its effort to obtain ownership of the council land it built its new clubhouse upon at the Derwent Esplanade. Mr Binny also had a big focus on council finances and had identified a number of discrepancies in that area.
In November last year, the Local Government Code of Conduct Panel partially upheld a complaint about Mr Binny made by Nigel and Heather Shearer. The complaint related to Mr Binny’s alleged failure to disclose a perceived interest in agenda items at the May and June 2023 council meetings. The items related to contract negotiations between Derwent Valley Council and New Norfolk Distillery operated by members of the Derksen famiy.
The panel dismissed some parts of the complaint but found that Mr Binny had a long-standing friendship with “the senior Derksens” and “a clear association with their children” and he should have declared a perceived conflict of interest in the distillery matters because of those connections. No penalty was imposed.
“The panel considers that the Cr Binny did not intentionally breach the code and held a genuine belief that he did not have a perceived conflict of interest in relation to the matters under discussion at the council meetings. However, whilst the panel does not accept his view as reasonable, in all the circumstances, the panel views the consequences of Cr Binny’s breach of the code as relatively minor. Therefore, the panel does not impose any sanction on Cr Binny,” the official finding concluded.
Following receipt of Mr Binny’s resignation, Mr Sanderson is required to advise the Tasmanian Electoral Commission of the vacancy on the council. The TEC will conduct a recount of the votes received by Mr Binny at the last election to determine who will take the seat. The following unsuccessful candidates from that election will be invited to take part in the recount: James Graham, Phillip Bigg, Heather Chaplin, Wayne Shoobridge, Brody Wiggins, Natasha Woods, Deb Carnes, Liz Virtue, Brett Maryniak and Eve Nelson, if they remain eligible.
Picture: Peter Binny at a Derwent Valley Council meeting last year.
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