Council forks out $45k responding to 'frivolous' ratepayers association requests

Council says it has cost more than $45,762 to deal with 38 GIPA (Government Information Public Access) requests from the Bega Valley Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) since July 2015.

At the council meeting on Wednesday, June 13, BVSC general manager Leanne Barnes also revealed that since June 2015 there had been an additional 201 informal requests for information from the association for which it was difficult to quantify a cost to council as they took varying amounts of time to address.

Now councillor Robyn Bain is planning to put a notice of motion to council to restrict the amount of time council staff spend on correspondence with the BVSRRA.

“I think this is an extraordinary amount of resource tied up in questions that in many cases are frivolous,” Cr Bain said.

“I have no complaint about scrutiny, but this appears to be just a couple of people tying up resources we don’t have to spare.

This appears to be just a couple of people tying up resources we don’t have to spare.

Councillor Robyn Bain

“We’ve had more GIPAs from the BVSRRA than Sydney City Council has received in total,” Cr Bain said.

However, the BVSRRA said it only pursues GIPA applications where council “has ignored requests or has failed to make information readily available” that the association believes should be freely available to all residents.

BVSRRA secretary John Richardson said he was encouraged to learn there were other ratepayers who had resorted to the GIPA process in order to access information from council. 

“The refusal of council to publish the Zenith Parking Report or the contracts of sale for the Aldi land or the Hotel Australasia site are recent examples of council’s proclivity to secrecy without any legal justification,” Mr Richardson said.

Council is on record as saying the Merimbula parking report and Hotel Australasia contract of sale will be released publicly as soon as possible.

This story $45,762 cost for ‘frivolous’ questions first appeared on Bega District News.