Mayor Des Kennedy has urged rural residents of the Mid-Western Region to attend village forums in 2013, following poor attendance at some meetings this year.
Cr Kennedy said he had “grave concerns” about the forums, after some were attended by only one or two people.
“My concern is that [council] is running a business and on some days we have four or five highly paid staff attending meetings to answer two or three questions and then go and have a cup of tea.”
Cr Kennedy was responding to a request from Cr Peter Shelley for a report on attendance at village forums over the last three years.
Cr Shelley stressed that he was not moving to end the forums, but wanted councillors to have information so that they could make an informed decision.
“Perhaps we could use the money better than by holding forums which in some instances are not well attended,” he said.
But Cr John Webb and Cr Percy Thompson defended the village forums as a chance for rural residents to raise local issues and for councillors and staff to see first hand the areas affected by these issues.
Cr Thompson said many people had said that they had not attended village forums because they did not know they were on and suggested that council write to residents beforehand to notify them of forum dates.
The forum dates are published each month in council’s Community News.
Cr Kennedy said that Mudgee residents who had issues made the effort to attend council meetings to speak at open days.
But Cr Thompson said people from Wollar, Goolma and Hargraves have to come a long way to attend a council open day.
Cr Shelley said these areas were “not a thousand miles away”.
Village forum dates for 2013 are:
* April 10, 2013 – Hargraves, 11am; Pyramul 1pm; Windeyer, 2.30pm; Meroo, 4.30pm;
* May 8, 2013 – Wollar, 2.30pm; Cooyal/Botobolar, 4.30pm; Cooks Gap, 6pm;
* October 9, 2013 – Yarrabin/Beragoo, 2.30pm; Goolma, 4pm;
* November 13, 2013 – Ilford, 1pm; Bylong 3pm; Lue, 5pm.
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