Kyogle councillor gagged
KYOGLE's Councillor Peter Lewis has been gagged from penning a column about issues important to him, including his 50th birthday.
Kyogle Council has formally cautioned him for submitting a column, which was attributed to him as a councillor in the August edition of TKN (The Kyogle Newspaper).
The council has barred him from signing any future columns using his title as a councillor ? the articles must be attributed to 'Peter Lewis'.
In the column, Cr Lewis wrote about a Toonumbar man's Internet site dedicated to cricket, a newly-painted shop front in Kyogle's main street, and the fact he turns 50 this year.
At Monday's council meeting councillors decided to caution Cr Lewis, to remind him he doesn't have authority to make comment on behalf of the council, and to ensure he keeps his private interests separate from his public interests as a councillor.
They also agreed to advise that Cr Lewis's column had not been authorised by the council and never would be.
Cr Lewis said yesterday he didn't expect the column to cause such controversy.
"It was never my intention to write the column on behalf of the council," he said.
"I was very surprised by it."
Kyogle Council general manager Ken Davies said councillors could make public statements only on issues being considered by the council. The mayor and general manager were the only people at the council who could comment on other matters.
Cr Lewis said he would continue writing the column.
A Local Government Department spokesperson said it was not a matter for the State Government, and it was up to each council to decide who publicly represents them.
This is the second time Cr Lewis has landed in hot water with Kyogle Council.
Last month he was referred to the council's Conduct Committee for investigation over three matters, two of which involved the council's bid for an Australian technical college.
The confidential matters have not yet been heard by the committee, consisting of the mayor, general manager, and a council solicitor.
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