Council sacks absent Evans

LONG-serving councillor and former mayor Martyn Evans will lose his seat on the Derwent Valley Council as he has missed three meetings.

After 16 years on the council, Mr Evans said the situation left a very bad taste in his mouth.

He said a family funeral and the need for Covid tests had prevented him attending three council meetings, but he had attended council workshops consistently.

“I sent apologies for the three meetings I couldn’t attend,’’ Mr Evans said.
“Its disappointing, farcical really given how some can break the Code of Conduct, and stay on council.
“I really think there needs to be an audit to see who is attending meetings and workshops.’’
“To be thrown out is very poor. I have been denied natural justice. A spotlight needs to be put on this.
“How is it fair that a councillor can breach the Code of Conduct and stay on council, and I miss three meetings, send in my apologies and lose my position.
“Without a change to the system I won’t consider standing again.’’

Mr Evans said the rise of social media had changed the nature of the role.
“I think a small minority in the community use social media in a very negative way,’’ Mr Evans said.
“I’ve seen a lot of comments, we are copping it a lot and it makes the role less enjoyable. It impacts on our families. “The staff work hard and they are hurt by some of the comments.

“If there was an audit of workshop attendance I think the community would be shocked.
“Across the board, all councils need to be looked at and those who don’t attend these workshops, which are very important for council decision making, should be stood down.
“I’m sad to be leaving, we have moved forward as a community and a lot has been achieved in recent years.
“The place has a much more positive outlook.
“Look at Willow Court, mountain bike tourism, being voted best town, the Esplanade upgrades, Years 11 and 12 school extensions.
“People want to live and work here, the place is going forward and I’ve enjoyed being part of that.’’

A recount for the position will be finalised on December 13.

A Government spokesperson said under the Local Government Act 1993, a councillor’s office was considered vacant if a councillor missed three consecutive ordinary council meetings without seeking a formal leave of absence.

“The Government is advised that the council’s General Manager notified the Tasmanian Electoral Commissioner, as is required under the Act, and that there will be a recount in due course.’’

The Derwent Valley Council has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons of late. Last week, the Gazette reported that Derwent Valley councillor Paul Belcher had been told he had to undergo compulsory ethics training or risk being suspended from council.

Local Government Minister Roger Jaensch made the decision following Mr Belcher’s breach of the council’s Code of Conduct and his failure to address the concerns raised in the Code of Conduct hearing last year.

Mr Belcher has three months to undertake the ethics training with a focus on his obligations as a councillor to comply with the Local Government Code of Conduct, not to bring the council or the role of councillor into disrepute and not reflect adversely on the reputation of the council. He must also take action to make his business, Pauly’s Pizza, compliant with council health and environmental requirements.

In September last year, an independent panel found Mr Belcher had breached council’s Code of Conduct. The panel found Mr Belcher had brought the council into disrepute.

The Gazette approached Mr Belcher for comment.