The Independent’s front page on February 17 advising that former mayor Dr Ian Tiley may run for election to Clarence Valley Council (CVC) this year, should be celebrated by all local residents who have felt let down by this Council over the last 10 years.
I served as a councillor on the former Maclean Shire Council (MSC) from 1995 until 2004 (when it was amalgamated into CVC) including the years from 1997 to 2000 when Ian Tiley served as our Mayor.
Under Ian’s leadership we replaced the General Manager and undertook a major staffing restructure which saw MSC become one of the most financially robust and effective shire councils in NSW. While many good people contributed to this success, the greatest credit must go to Ian Tiley as Mayor and to General Manager Ross Bryant.
A council restructure of this magnitude involves considerable pain as people lose jobs….and there was a backlash in the short term. As expected, the financial benefits were not immediately obvious, but the restructure created a rock-solid foundation for the following years.
Ian Tiley also streamlined meeting procedures. He introduced on-site inspections with all councillors, relevant council staff, applicants and objectors for all contentious developments. MSC adopted the highest standards for transparency and accountability.
Towards the end of the term for elected councillors in 1999, the State Government advised that they were considering an amalgamation of MSC into a valley-wide council and the Government extended the term for MSC councillors while the issues were investigated. We argued successfully against amalgamation. We all know that this was just a 4-year postponement and whatever we may think about that decision, we all have to make it work much better than it has in recent years.
Since those memorable years at MSC, Ian Tiley has completed a PhD. He has served as the first Mayor of CVC. He has been a council administrator managing councils when the Minister for Local Government has suspended or sacked councillors. He is currently Mayor of Armidale Regional Council. Very few people have the experience, the contacts, the qualifications or the track record in local government to compare to Ian Tiley.
In recent years our Clarence Valley Council has been unable to balance their General Fund budget. Many CVC projects have had budget over-runs of millions of dollars. Council has disposed of valuable community assets for peanuts and then voted to spend millions on expanding other sites such as Grafton Council headquarters to relocate staff. CVC has been labelled “unfit for the future” and has failed to reach promised savings levels needed to turn this classification around. In 2016 many councillors campaigned against imposing a Special Rate Variation and then voted for it at the first council meeting following their election. Only a few current councillors have been prepared to rock the boat and they don’t have the numbers to win on any major issues.
Dr Ian Tiley believes Clarence Valley Council is in dire need of reform and he encourages other people to also run. He understands that one new councillor would have very limited power and a team is required to achieve genuine reforms.
I hope there are a number of good candidates, from all over the Clarence Valley, who are prepared to throw their hat in the ring to reform this council.
Voters……this September, please study the candidates carefully and seize the opportunity to vote in a dedicated, effective team that will bring genuine reform to local government in the Clarence Valley.
Bill Day, Palmers Channel