NEXT Monday’s Singleton Council meeting is shaping up as a volatile affair.
The flashpoint will be a no confidence motion against mayor Sue Moore over the use of her regular Singleton Argus column.
And based on a flurry of email messages between councillors in the past week or so the debate may have more heat in it than Mount Vesuvius.
Well, that’s probably an exaggeration as Mount Vesuvius is a volcano that erupted about 2000 years ago and buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
None the less, personality pressures have been building in the civic chambers for some time and several council insiders told The Argus they feared what may erupt on Monday.
The emails between councillors read like schoolyard antics.
They involve accusations of speaking behind a colleague’s back, denials, counterclaims, people taking offence, finger-pointing and comment on leadership and respect.
The emails were referred to general manager Lindy Hyam and she put out an email of her own, attempting to pour cold water on the situation.
She viewed the emails as campaigning for the September local government election and called on councillors to be respectful and act in accordance with council conduct standards.
Mrs Hyam’s email acknowledged there were different relationships between councillors and reminded them to focus on council business and not be distracted.
Monday’s no confidence motion has been lodged by Cr Alison Howlett over Cr Moore’s June 26 column that was written 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 and ended by saying ratepayers should be furious.
The column ignited an explosive confrontation between Cr Moore and Cr Tony McNamara at the council’s July 2 meeting.
Cr McNamara believed the column attacked him and criticised a council decision, so he repeatedly asked if attacks on him in the column would continue.
Cr Moore said she did not see the column as political, a misuse of her position or an attack on ratepayers and thus would choose to write as she saw fit.
In addition to the no confidence motion, Cr Howlett has also called for steps to be taken to limit the mayoral column’s use to council information, not personal opinion.
While insiders who spoke to The Argus feared Monday’s meeting would expose a tectonic rift between councillors, they also expressed a hope they could rise above personality clashes to resolve their differences.