Wingecarribee mayoral car privileges may be stripped

Wingecarribee mayor Juliet Arkwright.

Wingecarribee mayor Juliet Arkwright.

Wingecarribee mayor Juliet Arkwright will likely lose the privilege to the mayoral vehicle after several alleged policy breaches.

The public will have the chance to share their thoughts on a policy amendment when the matter goes on exhibition for 28 days.

The Payment and Expenses Policy surrounding the mayoral vehicle outlines that the mayor is provided with a registered, insured, maintained and fuelled car to be used for official duties and private use.

Under the policy, the mayor must keep a monthly log book and repay the council for the cost of any private use.

In Wednesday night's Extraordinary Meeting, councillor Larry Whipper moved a notice of motion to amend the policy to reduce the charges of use outside the shire from 79 cents per kilometre to 21 cents in line with other local councils.

However, councillor Garry Turland put forward an amendment to take the mayoral car from Mayor Juliet Arkwright because of "policy breaches”.

Cr Arkwright said the amendment was "petty vindictiveness that any half-way honourable councillor would have been ashamed to support".

"There has been no serious breach on my part, in particular the ratepayers have not unwittingly supported one scintilla of my private use of the mayoral vehicle," she said.

"The inferences made by certain councillors last night were designed to humiliate me and traduce my reputation and any attempt to pontificate that they acted for the good of the community is pure hypocritical cant."

Cr Turland said the policy was simple and was not followed.

"It clearly says that a log book will be filled in, but no log book was filled in from June last year to December last year," Cr Turland said.

"And interestingly enough, the logbook doesn't comply with tax regulations.

"It is public policy and the policy wasn't followed."

Cr Whipper did not support the amendment and said it was an example of councillors trying to "destabilise the team."

"It's quite clear that this debate has reached a level of personal vindictiveness," he said.

Cr Whipper also said the mayor had paid back $4000 for private use of the vehicle "at her own costs."

Cr Arkwright later told the Southern Highland News she had paid pack $4366.20 in March and a further $362.52 in May.

Cr Turland produced emails between Cr Arkwright and council staff that discussed the model and value of the mayoral vehicle.

Councillor Duncan Gair added that during his term as mayor he drove his own vehicle but supported a Camry worth $35,000 be given to the new mayor.

"I thought that was a reasonable car for anybody to have the privilege of driving on behalf of the ratepayer and ratepayer funding," Cr Gair said.

"But that wasn't good enough, the emails Cr Turland has show a level of interference and that level of interference is a complaint that the car was not good enough and that another car be provided."

"Turned out to be a Calais, I think to be to the commercial value of $60,000."

"There's no need for this. I will not be supporting a mayoral vehicle in the term of this council."

Cr Arkwright said the Holden CalaisV was the same or of similar standard to mayoral vehicles throughout NSW.

Southern Highland News

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