Leadership and maturity questioned during heated council meeting

Bega Valley Shire mayor Kristy McBain has called on all councillors to be more mature in how they approach issues during an at-times heated debate.

Last Wednesday’s almost four-hour-long meeting covered a variety of contentious issues in the community, including the location of the regional gallery, the annual report and council’s aquatic facilities.

During discussion around five possible strategic models for the shire’s pools, Cr Robyn Bain took a veiled swipe at Cr Kristy McBain, questioning her leadership.

“For you to sit there, mayor, and say, ‘let’s get serious’, (well) yes, let’s get serious. Seriously talk about what this council can afford and seriously talk about what we can’t afford,” Cr Robyn Bain said.

“I believe this is about leadership and leadership from a councillor’s point of view is about being the custodian across the Bega Valley for all its assets.”

In her right of reply, Cr Kristy McBain said there was no need for councillors to be “hot under the collar”.

“What we’re simply doing is making sure that we have full details on all the models before we go to our community to ask them how they want to fund their pools,” she said.

”I don’t think that that is lacking leadership. I actually think that’s providing our community with all of the information to make a decision on.

“Simply saying, ‘everyone wants the pools and they’re willing to pay for them’, without having any evidence or without having the information to show what it’s going to cost them, is immature.”

It wasn’t the only tense period during the meeting after Cr Tony Allen accused councillors of living in denial when it came to council’s financial status, as revealed in the annual report.

But Cr Kristy McBain was having none of it after several other councillors cried out objections.

“Something’s been pointed out to us that’s in that report. We all knew that. It’s been discussed for a long time. It’s not something new,” she said.

“We’re well aware that we’re working within a constrained environment.

“It’s not a Bega Valley thing, it’s a local government NSW thing. Everybody’s under the same pressure.”

Cr Robyn Bain referred to the mayor’s statement as a “sermon”, drawing a gasp from Cr Sharon Tapscott.