Business chamber shocks council by quitting funding panel

LISMORE Chamber of Commerce president David Martin shocked Lismore Council on Tuesday night, saying the chamber wished to resign its position on the Lismore Business Panel.

Council had recently been informed that Lismore Square wished to resign its position on the panel and was due to vote on the best way to replace it.

But in public access, Mr Martin got up and personally handed a letter of resignation to all of the councillors and the general manager.

In the letter he says; "The panel is totally dysfunctional in its present form and is not representing the best interests of the Lismore business community".

Councillors were clearly shocked by the announcement, with the mayor Jenny Dowell saying she was "stunned" and then criticising Mr Martin for the way he had announced the resignation in such a public way.

Mr Martin said he had "grave concerns about the governance of the panel", and that he would be raising these in a letter to IPART (the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) and to the Minister for Local Government, Don Page.

He was not prepared to give much detail, other than saying at the last panel meeting they failed to reach quorum, yet voted to proceed with the meeting anyway.

He said the chamber board had met and voted unanimously to withdraw from the business panel.

The Lismore Business Panel is made up of representatives from business and council and determines how to spend funds collected by council through the Special Business Rate Variation Levy.

Cr Vanessa Ekins called Mr Martin's actions a "hissy fit".

"Why take your bat and ball and run away when you have a chance to be involved in this?" she asked.

Mr Martin said there would be "further and deeper explanation" coming.

"I think we have a wonderful city centre manger in Renee Moehead, but we have grave concerns about the management structure to support her in doing the job."



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