We are hearing a lot of complaints about the closed door attitude of prevailing secrecy in MidCoast Council.
The Pool Closure fiasco has highlighted the dangerous culture of closed mouth, say nothing secrecy in MidCoast Council.
The whole idea was dodgy to start with and typically, to save money, the council hit the community up first. Without asking or any consultation. This seems to be the modus operandi of our council, try and sneak things through to be approved before we or the councillors know about it.
Gloucester as well as Wingham were incensed when they heard that council was planning to shut down the pools. No communication or consultation. Apparently the councillor for Gloucester, Katherine Stinson, (who ironically chaired the Council meeting standing in for the absent mayor) had no idea about the pools closure either.
If anything the issue united the entire council area! Word spread like wildfire and communities swung into action. People are now waking up to how council operates and wondering just how many issues that concern them have quietly slipped through council without us being aware until suddenly there are trees coming down, roadworks starting and building next door which we knew nothing about. If it wasn’t for Cr Peter Epov spotting things and asking hard questions in council everything could slide through.
Recently someone applied to GIPA ( it used to be called The Freedom of Information Act 1989 NSW (FOI) and in 2017 was changed to The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 NSW (GIPA) and requested access to certain information from MidCoast Council and learned that 800 requests were ahead of him!
Sssh say nothing
Have you noticed how many matters are now deemed “Confidential” or “Commercially in confidence”?
Some councillors feel they’re being left in the dark at times or not being given the full facts of a matter. Also one can’t help wondering just how diligent councillors are in reading thousands of pages of detail pertaining to each council meeting with only a few days notice. Is this deliberate obfuscation and pressure to skim rather than read and analyse?
The public find it difficult to get straight answers when they ring council. We have been told of someone ringing council and asking to speak to a specific person. The girl who answered at council initially grilled him at some length, why was he calling, did he know the person, had he spoken to him before, what exactly did he want to know and by the way that person is no longer on staff. So when he asked to speak to whomever had taken over that role and was asked for his own details and what he wanted to talk about, he said “What’s with the third degree, can I speak to XXX as I’ve spoken to him before.” She hung up on him.
Others have been told that Council now has a staff response policy of a maximum of ten days to respond to you!
So is this MCCs new way of doing business? You are not allowed to talk directly to any staff member, you can only talk to a senior staff member after your call is vetted by the communications section?
So we obviously have to kowtow and realise that the senior staff are very busy (doing what exactly??? ) and cannot talk to us plebs.
There must be something in the coffee at council which is why they are completely out of touch with reality. And obviously don’t give a fig for the community. Back off ratepayers and let us get on with our bigtime important wheeling and dealing folks.