OPINION:Should Guyra get its Council back?

14th Jul 2020

Ever witnessed a civic body fail so pitifully as the first, post-amalgamation Armidale Regional Council? Granted, it was always going to be a tough gig simply because freshly amalgamated councils usually tend to be rife with opinion. Too many councillors still wrestle with the concept of regionalism and remain far too Armidale-centric to be able to meet their responsibility to play nice. Luckily, they were never expected to agree, get along or even like each other, (to that degree those elected were a huge success). It seems they just needed to tolerate each other for long enough to get things done. Council did have a lot to get done and only three years to do it. You just knew the time to hand out the popcorn would come. Considering the period was loaded with in-fighting, financial problems, drought, fire, rocky relations with a state MP and a pandemic, this council\’s longevity actually raised an eyebrow or two. Simply, there was never a team of councillors working cooperatively for ratepayers, just individuals striving to leave their mark, but only managing to graffiti the walls for others to clean. In its search for someone to blame, and to its eternal discredit, this council turned on its own staff. It tried to scapegoat those who had taken it through drought and fire and were negotiating financial problems and the pandemic. And that is why it failed. It hated itself from the inside out. At the time of writing, four councillors have resigned. It started with Cr Di Gray, Cr Libby Martin was next, Cr Simon Murray and now Cr Brad Widders. Senior staff have also resigned. They all walked away shaking their heads. Only time will tell if more will follow, but people do have long memories, and it would amaze you just who could support de-amalgamation of the Guyra and Armidale councils under certain circumstances. One thing is for certain, it will be time to hand out the half-time munchies if the remnants of this particular council are ever allowed to meet again.
Steven Green
Armidale NSW