Coorong councillors press ahead with mediation plan

Bridget Mather attends her first monthly meeting as chief executive officer of the Coorong council. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Bridget Mather attends her first monthly meeting as chief executive officer of the Coorong council. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

The Coorong's councillors will press ahead with a plan to hire a professional mediator to sort out their differences, with the support of their new chief executive officer.

Bridget Mather, attending her first monthly meeting on Tuesday, suggested it was important for the council to move forward.

"When you've got a group of people who come together with a common purpose, but nothing else in common, you'll always have tension," she said.

"You're no different to other councils in that respect.

"You won't always agree; some of you will never agree."

The council has considered three professionals who could be right for the job: local government team-building expert Rowena McLean and organisational psychologists Shelley Rogers and Scott Way.

Whichever one is hired would hold one-on-one sessions with each councillor, group sessions, give recommendations and follow up over time.

Councillors will revisit the question of who should have to pay for any mediation at a future meeting.

A motion that would have required councillors to do so out of their own pockets was defeated in a 5-4 vote.

Cr Lisa Rowntree believed ratepayers should not have to pay to solve councillors' personal disputes.

"This is our problem," she said.

"We created it."

But Cr Neville Jaensch argued that the council could not force any individual to pay for what was essentially a professional development exercise.

"I will not be paying," he said.

If the council was paying, he said, "I'll attend anything".

The council first voted to seek mediation in September, following disputes - including legal action, since withdrawn - between councillors, mass resignations and low staff morale.

Councillors considered how much a mediator might cost - the figure of $10,000 was discussed - in December.

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