Elected members of the Alexandrina Council have sent a strong message to a group of residents who they believe have let the council down and cost their fellow ratepayers in the process.
After receiving more than 600 submissions on its Development Plan Amendment (DPA), which included reference to a controversial development that has divided the town for many years, council decided to hold a public hearing to hear the residents out.
When 85 people requested to speak at the hearing, the council had no choice but to reschedule the original meeting in order to cater for the overwhelming public interest.
The meeting was set for February 17 at the Strathalbyn Town Hall but on the day, just 14 of the 85 registered speakers showed up.
At the February 19 council meeting, councillor Jim Davis said he was putting it mildly when he said the actions of these people actions were simply rude.
“Eighty per cent of these speakers never even had the decency to let us (council) know they weren’t coming even after all the trouble we went to to set up the meeting,” he said.
He called on the council to let these people know they had let the council down.
“We need to highlight to them the time, work and cost that council made to change the meeting… we need to tell our community that they’ve let us down,” he said.
In support of Cr Davis, deputy mayor Madeleine Walker suggested council attach a list to the next meeting’s agenda with the names of the people who registered to speak but did not show up.
“I am sympathetic to the motion but I don’t think it goes far enough to explain to the community the significant expense and work this council has put to this issue,” she said.
Councillor Barry Featherston said he would like to know how many other projects missed out because council staff had been ‘hijacked’ by the Strathalbyn DPA hearing.
“The turn out was very disappointing and we owe it to our ratepayers to tell them what this meeting has cost us,” he said.
Strathalbyn Ward councillor Ben Brazzalotto said while he appreciated the concerns of his fellow elected members, he did not support the council calling out members of the community.
“To target those who didn’t come says ‘you’ve been naughty, don’t do it again’ and I don’t think that’s in the spirit of local government,” he said.
“It’s contradictory to everything we say in this chamber about wanting our community to come and talk to us.”
When put to a vote, the majority swung in favour of contacting the speakers who did not show up and letting them know of the trouble they had caused council.
Only councillors Ben Brazzalotto, Anne Woolford and Grant Gartrell voted against.