‘Shocking, embarrassing’: Huge spike in council complaints
THE significant spike in code of conduct reports at the Lismore City Council has been labelled as "shocking, disappointing and embarrassing" by councillors.
The code of conduct report for 2019-20 shows that 52 reports were made against councillors and the general manager at a cost of $82,614, yet only two breaches were found.
For context, the council had nine complaints during the 2018-19 period.
The breakdown of the report, according to Acting Mayor Neil Marks, saw 21 made by external people, 19 by councillors and 12 by council staff.
A total of 33 complaints were directed at councillors and 19 were directed at council staff.
Councillor Eddie Lloyd said the spike represented a "very big problem" for the council, which impacted residents.
"That statistic reflects a very big problem and it is costing our community, it's not just a financial problem, it is also reputational issue for us," Cr Lloyd said.
"My experience, and what those statistics suggest, is the code of conduct is being used as a weapon, it's being abused, those statistics are harrowing."
Cr Elly Bird agreed with her colleague but went further in questioning the leadership of the organisation.
"I absolutely echo the concerns that Cr Lloyd has raised, it is really shocking to see the leap in the number of complaints that have been levied against councillors and the GM," Cr Bird said.
"What it says to me councillors, is that there is a serious problem with the culture of the leadership of this organisation.
"All I see is the numbers and it is shocking, disappointing and embarrassing."
An Office of Local Government spokesperson said the Lismore Council needed to ensure their actions complied with the code of conduct.
"The simplest way for the council to avoid costs associated with dealing with code of conduct breaches is for councillors to comply with their obligations and ensure their conduct meets the high standards expected by the community," the spokesperson said.
The motion saw the report noted with all attending councillors in favour except Councillor Guise.