DIVISION of Local Government chief executive Ross Woodward’s final words in summing up the code of conduct case against Paul Nichols are astounding.
Quote point 13 in reasons for deciding not to impose a period of suspicion: “I observe that on or about the 10 and 11 May 2010, councillor Nichols COULD NOT HAVE acted contrary to the resolution of council from the 15 March 2010, which delegated the function of negotiating the disbursement of cost with the Jones brothers to the general manager (Scott Greensill). This is because on the 1 April 2010, a Deed of Settlement was executed, effectively finalising the function for which the delegation existed.”
Such simple facts that should have been glaringly obvious from the moment this million dollar code of conduct complaint was lodged.
When you consider the time, effort, money and the personal toll this complaint took on the likes of Cr Paul Nichols and his family, the whole situation deserves further investigation.
How on earth this code of complaint got off the ground in the first place is questionable.
Mr Woodward is satisfied that the matter does not warrant any further action.
Against Cr Nichols, that determination is true.
However, one million dollars of ratepayers money was spent in pursuing this complaint. Money that would have been far better spent on anything else, roads, parks, you name it.
Surely someone must be accountable for the decision that was made all that time ago. Surely someone must be made to answer why this path was taken, especially when it is now clear that Cr Nichols COULD NOT have acted contrary to a resolution of council.
In the long run, a government review should see this antiquated process updated to stop this sort of thing every happening again.
In the short term, and with an election pending, Singleton residents have a right to know who lodged that complaint.
Some might argue that it doesn’t matter.
This newspaper would argue that it does.
Much time and council staff energy has been wasted in dealing with this matter and in the interest of moving foward, people have the right to know who, what, where, when and why in a bid to ensure it never happens to this community again.
Someone needs to be accountable for what has happened to this community