Govt demands talks on ?grave concerns
By Zoe Satherley
NSW Local Government Minister Kerry Hickey has demanded a mystery meeting with Kyogle Council general manager Ken Davies and mayor Cr Ernie Bennett to address 'grave concerns'.
However, the nature of these grave concerns are so vague and secret that neither Mr Davies nor Cr Bennett have any real idea what they are about.
"We have tried to find out, but the Minister won't tell us, apart from listing some broad areas he says he wants to talk about," Cr Bennett said.
Cr Bennett has been told that, at the September 30 meeting, Minister Hickey wants to discuss council's 'charter obligations, reform processes, effluent services, crown land issues and infrastructure'.
"We have no more information than that," he said.
A spokesperson for the Min- ister said issues about the council -? raised with them by State Member for Lismore Thomas George -? were 'very serious'.
The spokesperson would not elaborate.
Mr Davies is on leave until September 16 and was not available for comment, however he has been in contact with Cr Bennett over the issue and was happy for him to speak to The Northern Star on behalf of them both.
Mr George said he had no comment to make on the situation.
The spokesperson for Minister Hickey said Mr George had raised issues about Kyogle Council with former Local Government Minister Tony Kelly.
These had been passed on to Mr Hickey when he recently took over the portfolio.
Community concern has been raised at recent public meetings in Kyogle over coun- cil's lack of support for the upkeep and maintenance of a number of crown land reserves.
In 2002 Kyogle Council said it could no longer afford the upkeep and public liability insurance for the six reserves, and handed them back to the State Government.
The Department of Lands advertised for community trusts to be established to manage the reserves, including the Kyogle Recreation Reserve -? a large site that encompasses the town's caravan park, botanical gardens, tennis courts, cricket fields, Kyogle scenic lookout and picnic ground, and a bushwalking trail.
Community volunteers, now responsible for upkeeping these reserves, have asked for the Minister to intervene, saying they can no longer cope with the enormous task, which should be the responsi- bility of the council.