A proposed memorandum of understanding has identified the rift between Eurobodalla Shire councillors, who on Tuesday questioned the balance of power among them.
Councillors were presented with a recommendation from general manager Catherine Dale to appoint Mayor Lindsay Brown, deputy mayor Rob Pollock and herself to a working group to develop a draft understanding with Bega Valley Shire Council.
However, Councillors Gabi Harding, Danielle Brice and Liz Innes said just who would nominate for the working group was not discussed.
Cr Harding said the nominations were telling of the “power ladder” within the council.
“There’s been a steady stream of power to a concentrated few in this establishment and it’s been occurring over the last six to nine months, possibly even 12, (through) powerful positions on committees, especially those external to council, where influence is at its strongest,” she said.
“A certain three or so councillors have been awarded some significant positions, whilst the remainder have been thrown strategic crumbs to dampen their dissent.
“Today is the next rung in this power ladder.”
Cr Brice said she, too, was dis-appointed.
“Other councillors were not given the opportunity to be on the working group and how do we learn and how do we gain experience?” she asked.
“We’re all up for the challenge, we’re all proficient in different fields.
“I would like to ask, what do you need to do to be considered to be on this working group?”
Cr Innes congratulated Cr Harding for articulating how she had felt for the past two years.
Cr Neil Burnside and Dr Dale said any councillors could attend the group without nomination, however Cr Innes wasn’t convinced.
She cited Cr Brown’s actions at a recent rural lands committee meeting.
“One of our councillors was in that meeting who was not on that committee and you effectively told him that he could not participate and should be quiet,” she said.
“I was very affronted by it, because I believed that was inconsistent with what I had seen at other committees and I thought you, as mayor, were showing particular bias against one of our councillors.
“I am concerned that although the rhetoric is that we would encourage other councillors, I don’t have faith that would actually occur, because it is not what I have seen and witnessed firsthand.”
Cr Brown said he did not recall the alleged offence.
As Crs Pollock, Peter Schwarz and Milton Leslight were absent from the meeting, the matter was deferred for councillors to “flesh it through”.