MAYOR Sue Moore faces a no confidence motion on July 16 over the use of her regular column in The Singleton Argus.
The motion has been lodged by Cr Alison Howlett who has also called for steps to be taken to limit the column to council information, not personal opinion.
Cr Moore’s June 26 Argus column ignited a heated confrontation at this week’s regular council meeting between Cr Tony McNamara and herself which ended with Cr Moore standing up, leaning across her table and telling Cr McNamara: “I’ll choose to write as I see fit.”
The stoush was triggered by Cr McNamara saying the column attacked him, criticised a council decision and may be a breach of the council’s code of conduct.
Cr McNamara asked several times whether personal attacks against him would continue in the column.
Other councillors in the chambers appeared stunned by the exchange.
Cr Moore told The Argus after the meeting she believed the no confidence motion was part of a campaign against her because she was recontesting a seat on the council in the September local government election.
She said she had noticed a degree of hostility from some other councillors against her during council meetings.
Cr Moore said that Cr McNamara may well be in breach of the conduct code for publicly suggesting she was, and she would speak to general manager Lindy Hyam about it.
Cr Moore said she was sorry Cr McNamara interpreted her column as an attack on him.
Cr Moore said her June 26 column was not political, not a misuse of her position and did not attack ratepayers or breach the conduct code.
Cr Moore’s controversial mayoral column was in response to a council decision a week earlier to spend up to $500,000 to replace an old, dangerous causeway on Long Gully Road, The Retreat, and tar seal the road and its dead end offshoot, Mountain View Road.
Ten councillors supported the move and Cr Moore opposed it.
Cr Moore’s column set out why she believed the decision was wrong and unfair to other parts of the shire.
Her column said Cr McNamara was incorrect in saying the council had not endorsed a causeway replacement priority list and Singleton ratepayers should be furious about Long Gully and Mountain View resealings jumping up the queue.
Several councillors have told The Argus that they, and numerous Singleton residents, believed the column was inappropriate.
Cr McNamara told The Argus outside the meeting: “I asked the mayor if the personal attacks on me in her column were going to continue.
“Although I received a very stern response, I didn’t get an answer.
“Mayors are there to support council decisions, regardless of what decisions are made, and the mayoral column should not be used for political purposes.”
Cr Moore said: “I used my column largely to correct wrong information that was stated at the council meeting and reported.
“I’ve received compliments about the column, saying it was concise, stuck to the issues and was stating facts.
“Cr McNamara made a statement that the priority list was not adopted by council but the council had adopted the matrix and the list came from it so the council had effectively adopted it.”
During the heated exchange between Cr Moore and Cr McNamara, Cr Moore suggested he respond to her column through a letter to the Argus editor.
Two other councillors viewed that remark as allowing all councillors an opportunity to make comments in the media.
When asked by The Argus if this was so Cr Moore said all councillors could write letters on behalf of themselves, “but in no way was I endorsing Cr McNamara to be a media spokesman for the council”.