Armidale ratepayers are paying to have a committee of former mayors and councillors advise the administrator, Dr Ian Tiley. The Local Representation Advisory Committee (LRAC) do not get to vote, and their purpose, as stated in their terms of reference, is to advise the administrator on local views and issues.
The logic of such a committee makes sense, even if many would question the cost.
Former Armidale and Guyra mayors, Herman Beyersdorf and Hans Hietbrink, and former councillors Margaret O’Connor, Colin Gadd, Andrew Murat, Dot Vickery and Simon Murray meet for about an hour every three weeks.
They must read the council business paper every three weeks, and the LRAC members need to engage with the communities within the local government area to provide advise that reflects on local views.
Occasionally they are asked to represent Armidale Regional Council at community events on behalf of the administrator.
Now, all that sounds fair.
The role is significantly reduced from what councillors had to carry out on the former Armidale Dumaresq Council. They do not have the same responsibilities of an elected councillor.
In today’s edition, The Express has revealed that there has been tension between the administrator, and the former Armidale mayor.
On this page, in the March 1 edition of the Express, Dr Beyersdorf wrote an opinion piece titled ‘Questionable decisions in Armidale amalgamation’.
This appears to have been the catalyst for Dr Tiley to issue a warning to Dr Beyersdorf about his conduct as a member of LRAC.
When the former Armidale Dumaresq Council was sacked and an administrator appointed last year, the one benefit for our community was that we could see an end to some of the politics that had plagued our council for many years.
There had been personality conflicts, and senior staff departures that did not serve the community well, and would have been avoidable in a more professional organisation.
The council’s sacking should have brought all that to an end. There is no doubt some would feel trepidation with today’s news of the conflict inside the council.
When the election of the new council is held later this year, ratepayers need to choose our next councillors carefully.