RVC may say ‘NOROC no more’

THE mayor of Richmond Valley says there is "division and conflict" within the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) and that being a member only has "questionable" benefits.

At tonight's council meeting, Cr Ernie Bennett will ask his fellow councillors to agree to withdraw from NOROC.

"There is no clear agreement on what the role of NOROC should be," he says in his report.

"Discussions on this have been taking place for years and are not resolved.

"Decisions and matters of strategic direction appear to be ad hoc and to a large degree depend on the chair of the day."

Cr Bennett has also raised concerns about the cost.

Another concern is when the council gets "backed into a position under the banner of NOROC when we clearly disagree".

Yesterday Cr Bennett would not comment on his mayoral minute, saying he would prefer to talk about it after the council meeting.

But NOROC chair Jenny Dowell has urged Richmond Valley councillors to stay involved.

"I am disappointed about this mayoral minute," she said.

"I think it's the wrong time to withdraw - we have local government reform on the agenda at the moment and that's all about regional co-operation.

"NOROC is also looking at a new strategic plan.

"This is the time to get involved.

"I would hope and expect that Richmond Valley Council would want to be involved in the reforms."

Clarence Valley Council has already voted to give NOROC the required 12 months notice that it is withdrawing.

Mayor Richie Williamson said he would not comment on Cr Bennett's criticism of the processes and political divides within NOROC.

"The decision is a council based decision and it is ultimately a decision Richmond Valley Council will have to make," he said.

But Cr Williamson said working more closely with the Richmond Valley Council would be on the cards for the Clarence Valley in the future.

"We hope to develop better partnerships with councils both to the north and the south of the Clarence Valley," he said.

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