Coorong councillors cannot agree on whether to bring in professional mediator

Tailem Bend Town Hall. Photo: File.
Tailem Bend Town Hall. Photo: File.

The Coorong council is "at risk" unless its members can sort out their differences, one of its elected members has warned.

Long-serving Meningie councillor Sharon Bland made the remark at a meeting last Tuesday, as the council delayed a decision about whether it needed a professional mediator to end ongoing conflicts in the chamber.

"I'd be concerned if we don't have ... professional support to get the council working as a team to support ratepayers," she said.

"If we're seen to be continuously dysfunctional, this council is at risk."

She did not specify what type of risk she meant.

Moments afterwards, councillors voted to wait until January to decide whether to budget up to $10,000 for an independent mediator.

Glynis Taylor was among several councillors who suggested a professional was no longer necessary at all.

"I believe mediation is a complete waste of money," she said.

Cr Jeff Arthur said he would allow a mediator to get involved if ratepayers did not have to pay for the service.

But he, too, remained sceptical.

"What good would mediation do?" he asked.

"Probably none whatsoever."

Cr Lisa Rownstree agreed that councillors should pay for any mediator themselves.

"We are the problem," Cr Rowntree said.

"Ratepayers shouldn't have to pay for our inability to get along."

The councillors had agreed to bring in a mediator just three months earlier, after a former employee unloaded on them for their disunity, for disrupting staff and for upsetting the previously positive culture at the council.

They will revisit the issue at their next meeting, on January 21 - the day after their new chief executive officer starts.

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