Community action groups in the Macleay Valley have come together to deliver a petition to the NSW Government to take action against Kempsey Shire Council.
The bodies including the Save Kempsey Airport Action Group (SKAAG), Kempsey Cinema Action Group and the Crescent Head Residents and Ratepayers Association have joined forces following recent decisions made by council.
They are calling for an intervention from the Minister for Local Government, citing a perceived lack of transparency, community engagement and due diligence by Kempsey Shire Council.
"Although each group have specific concerns relating to their own community, we accept that there are different points of view across the whole shire on individual issues. What the groups have in common is a total lack of confidence in Kempsey Shire Council's decision-making processes and governance," SKAAG president Adam Ulrick said.
Kempsey Shire Council general manager Craig Milburn said councillors have had to make difficult decisions during the past year-and-a-half, but have always aimed to have residents' interests at heart.
"Kempsey Shire residents have the right to express their opinions on issues of community importance and interest. This is a key part of the democracy process that Kempsey Shire Council encourages, so long as all parties respect the views of each other," he said.
"Council has faced some significant and challenging decisions in the past 18 months which have resulted in some sections of the shire's 29,500 population feeling aggrieved."
The community groups involved in the petition against council are hoping to ask the Minister to issue a Performance Improvement Order.
"Council only have themselves to blame for becoming the most complained about council in NSW in 2018 and they remain at very short odds to retain this title in 2019," Mr Ulrick said.
Mr Milburn said out of the 35 complaints council received last year, the majority were in regards to the cinema and Kempsey Airport.
"It's our understanding that the majority of the 35 complaints to the Office of Local Government (OLG) for 2017-18 related to the CBD cinema and the management of Kempsey Airport," he said.
"To date, the OLG has only made enquiries with council about two of those complaints and has not initiated any follow-up actions."
Mr Ulrick said the action groups have been forgiving of Kempsey Shire Council but they have reached the end of their tolerance.
"We invite any other concerned community groups or residents to join the alliance and we encourage anyone that is concerned about council's performance to sign this petition," he said.
Kempsey Shire Council has said it will continue to work with the community.
"Council is committed to continuing to build community trust and increase opportunities for residents to have their say to better inform future decision-making processes," Mr Milburn said.
"For example, our ongoing series of community catch-ups throughout the shire have resulted in effective and prioritised grant applications and project delivery in Frederickton, Gladstone and South West Rocks."
The draft Noise Management Plan and Fly Neighbourly Agreement were on public exhibition for an extended 12-week period to allow the community further time to offer feedback. A report incorporating this feedback will be presented to council in June before any further decision is made on the future Kempsey Airport management.
The petition to the NSW Parliament by SKAAG, Kempsey Cinema Action Group and the Crescent Head Residents and Ratepayers Association will be available at a number of locations across the Macleay Valley. For more information email email@example.com or visit their Facebook page.
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