AN INVESTIGATION has found Ballina Shire councillor Peter Moore breached the code of conduct when he voted on a controversial change of use application for the Ramada Hotel.
Cr Moore did not declare a non-pecuniary interest at the council’s December meeting.
As a result, two complaints were made to the council, outlining concerns about his connections to Lennox Head developer Chris Condon. They were made by the owner of The Point restaurant, John Cordina, and the Ballina Environment Society.
Gary Faulks, a former Ballina Shire Council general manager, reviewed the complaints.
He agreed Cr Moore breached the code of conduct, saying Cr Moore had done ‘very little’ to manage the public perception of his relationship with Mr Condon.
However, Mr Faulks recommended the council take no action against Cr Moore.
BES president, Dr Lyn Walker, welcomed the findings.
“Our association believes it is enormously important that the council’s development decisions be free from any suspicion of conflicts of interest,” she said.
“We are pleased that this ruling has been made expeditiously and in time to influence forthcoming council meetings.”
The council’s general manager, Paul Hickey, said the findings would be presented to councillors at this month’s meeting.
“Councillors don’t necessarily have to agree with the findings,” he said.
“My understanding is that they can disagree and resolve differently, but this would be unlikely.”
Mr Hickey said Cr Moore could not be forced to stop voting on issues concerning Mr Condon without further action being taken by the council.
“In the end it is the councillor’s decision, but I expect Cr Moore will declare an interest now that the independent reviewer has provided his findings,” he said.
Cr Moore could not be contacted yesterday, and Mr Condon declined to comment.
Mr Faulks made the findings after fellow panel member David Wolff withdrew from the investigation, citing a potential conflict of interest. On advice from the Department of Local Government, Mr Hickey appointed Mr Faulks as the sole reviewer, also relieving the third panel member, police Inspector Greg Moore.