Former mayor to take on ‘warriors’

FORMER Derwent Valley Mayor Ben Shaw is hoping for a return to local politics just 10 months after his sudden resignation in December last year. However, Mr Shaw will not be contesting a seat in the Derwent Valley, instead his new political bid is to secure a seat on Sorell Council. Mr Shaw and his family live in New Norfolk, but own a holiday house at Primrose Sands in the Sorell municipality.

He said he felt he had more to give to the community and while he seriously weighed up the impact of standing again, he felt it was worthwhile. He said the fact his children did not go to school in the Sorell municipality, meant the impact of social media would be reduced, if not eliminated, he hoped.

Last December, the Derwent Valley Council was rocked with two councillor resignations and a dismissal in two weeks. The shock developments triggered two recounts and a by-election to replace the mayor. Michelle Dracoulis was elected in the by-election to replace Mr Shaw as mayor. Mr James Graham was elected on a recount to replace Martyn Evans who was dismissed from council having failed to attend three consecutive meetings. Mr Matt Hill replaced Mr Belcher in the recount.

At the time of his resignation, Mr Shaw cited a concerted campaign by “social media warriors” to “bring me down, certain media and a minority of despicable community members who are allowed to go unfettered and without consequence spreading vile misinformation, rumors and lies’’ had led him to quit. “The warriors had no regard for mine or my families mental health.

“To have lies about myself and my family, including my children, spread around social media is nothing short of disgusting. “Local government is just not a safe place in today’s world and unfortunately I don’t have the energy to fight anymore. “This was an extremely tough decision because of the love I have for my community and changes I have been able to make, but one I have been grappling with for some months now,’’ Mr Shaw said.

Meanwhile Mr Belcher has continued to make headlines since his resignation.

Last week, the Gazette revealed Mr Belcher, when a councillor on the Derwent Valley Council, twice handed over confidential information to a media outlet despite being told by the General Manager it should not be disclosed. As a result of the disclosure the Director of Local Government took Mr Belcher to the Hobart Magistrates Court and he was found guilty, fined $2000 and banned from standing for local government for five years. Local Government Director Mathew Healey said Mr Belcher breached the Local Government Act twice. “The complaint was that former councillor Belcher disclosed to Damien Bester information that was given to him by the General Manager on the condition that it be kept confidential on two occasions in February and March 2020,’’ Mr Healey said.