Divided council names the footbridge for Dame Mary, again

Upper Lachlan Shire Council has upheld its decision to name the Pat Cullen Reserve footbridge for Dame Mary Gilmore amid division and a rescission motion.

Councillors Pam Kensit, Ron Cummins and Richard Opie tabled a notice of rescission at the November meeting to relook at public submissions for naming the footbridge. The motion was dismissed.

Council: John Stafford supports the council has followed due process to naming the footbridge at Pat Cullen Reserve.

Council: John Stafford supports the council has followed due process to naming the footbridge at Pat Cullen Reserve.

Cr Kensit had questioned the processes for a 28-day submission and responses to documents on exhibition, including draft policies and planning. Kensit, Cummins and Opie were not objecting to the choice of name, but the process and openness of its selection.

There were 28 submissions, with eight in favour of Dame Mary Gilmore. Mayor John Stafford argued the remaining 20 did not offer a singular alternative. "To me, this is just a tragic event. It is sad that we have a split community over this," Cr Stafford said.

The footbridge's proposed naming was firstly deferred in August until the adoption of a formal draft naming policy for public infrastructure. Then in September, councillors voted unanimously to name the bridge for Dame Mary due to a discrepancy to retrospect naming the bridge until the adoption of the policy.

In October, Cr Kensit, absent in September, addressed council and said the community submissions had been ignored. "Does this smell of goodwill? No. It reeks of an old boys' club," Cr Kensit said.

"Once more I refer my fellow councillors back to the question of the squeaky wheel or the silent majority. There is a community out there who feel ignored and disenfranchised. At this point I question [the] relevance of my position at this table as community representative."

Cr Stafford supported the process. "The process followed with regards to the namimg of the footbridge over Kiamma Creek is clearly available for all to see in the relevant business papers for council meetings," Cr Stafford told the Crookwell Gazette in October.

Members of the Kiamma Creek Landcare Group support naming the footbridge for Dame Mary Gilmore.

At the request of Cr Stafford, responses to questions from the Crookwell Gazette are published in their entirety below:

"The process followed with regards to the naming of the footbridge over Kiamma Creek is clearly available for all to see in the relevant business papers for council meetings.

"The council minutes of August 15 show a report from the council staff had all the public submissions in the business papers and a recommendation that the council make a determination on the naming of the newly constructed footbridge over Kiamma Creek in the Pat Cullen Reserve.

"An amendment was moved by Cr Kensit and seconded by Cr Wheelwright that the council create a policy for the naming of public infrastructure.

"That amendment was carried.

"Council minutes for September 19 regarding an item of correspondence on the footbridge naming detail an amendment moved and seconded by Crs Cummins and Opie to reconsider the report from the August meeting and make a determination on the submissions.

"This was carried unanimously.

"A new motion was then moved and seconded by Crs McCormack and Wheelwright that the council name the new footbridge in the Pat Cullen Reserve as Dame Mary Gilmore Footbridge.

"When put to the meeting, this was carried unanimously.

"In answer to your question, "Was this fair?", the above sequence of events demonstrates a very clear and obvious trail of due process and democracy being followed.

"I reiterate, all submissions were in the business papers and considered.

"As to the Crookwell Gazette question: How will we prevent this happening again?: If you are referring to one councillor being upset to the degree that some very unfortunate remarks were made about other councillors, I intend to remind all Councillors of their obligations to continue to work collaboratively.

"All councillors need to show respect for their fellow councillors, that we should follow the correct guidelines on council determinations, that behaviour at meetings has code of conduct expectations and we are indeed fortunate to live in a democracy."

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