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Patricia Hellier - 26 April 2016

Patricia Hellier made comments regarding the Rural Land Strategy at the Ordinary Council Meeting 26 April 2016.

Council's Reply

In relation to the issues regarding the Rural Lands Strategy, the following responses are provided to your questions.

1. Why were the 3 complaints not dealt with individually?

I refer to the response provided in my letter dated 18 March 2016 which stated that the complainants requested a further conversation with Council planners with “some other genuine producers invited”.

2. Who “hand-picked” the other farmers who attended this meeting?

I refer to the response provided in the 18 March 2016 letter which advised that the attendees were either invited by the three complainants or the consultant identified a number of individuals he wanted to meet with to discuss specific issues.

3. Why was the majority of the committee not invited?

The response provided in the 18 March 2016 letter outlined how those who attended the meeting were selected. They were either invited by the three complainants, or the consultant identified a number of individuals he wanted to meet with to discuss specific issues. Given that the complainants who requested this meeting did not request the attendance of the entire committee, it would have been inappropriate to invite the committee. I do however acknowledge that it would have been appropriate to inform the committee that the meeting had been requested.

4. Why did the consultant not reconvene the Rural Lands Committee and discuss this issue with the committee as a whole?

The consultant was not responsible for convening meetings of the Rural Lands Strategy Steering Committee. Council staff arranged steering committee meetings. The holding of the additional meeting was an operational decision taken in response to complaints and did not require a meeting to discuss.

5. Why was the General Manager absent from the last series of meetings?

The General Manager attended the majority of the initial five group forum meetings as an observer, as Council staff and managers did not attend these forums. She did not attend the last series of forums, as Council staff were in attendance at all of these meetings.

6. Council should have reconvened a meeting of all those who were in attendance at the meeting on 7 November – rather than allowing a “them and us” situation occur by those 3 complainants who obviously were just not happy that a vote on these overlays occurred with the majority voting against these overlays.

The complainants and the consultant all indicated to Council that the meeting on 7 November 2015 did not cover the issues that the meeting was intended to cover, despite repeated attempts to do so. The purpose of the meeting as requested by the three complainants was to have a further conversation with Council planners with “some other genuine producers invited” to discuss rural producers’ issues. There were three other meetings providing opportunities for people to raise other issues such as overlays. As advised in my response to you dated 18 March 2016, the detailed notes from the additional meeting appear in the “Eurobodalla Rural Lands Strategy Report on Public Exhibition”.