A MOVE by Orange councillor Reg Kidd to cut the number of councillors is an attempt to shore up his bid to become mayor again, according to outgoing councillor Jeremy Buckingham.
Cr Buckingham said Cr Kidd’s motion, for next Thursday’s council meeting, to reduce the number of councillors from 12 to nine was a “cheap political stunt”.
“It’s a cheap shot from a man who hasn’t got over being dumped as mayor after just one year,” he said.
“It’s all about Reg angling for mayoralty and nothing to do with the best interests of the people of Orange.
“Reg wants to reduce the numbers so he’s got a better chance of being mayor.”
But Cr Kidd hit back, saying Cr Buckingham’s comment was ludicrous, as the move to cut councillors was to make the council more “efficient and effective”.
“It’s an inexcusable comment from a member of Parliament,” he said.
“I mightn’t even stand [for council] yet. How possibly would it even make a difference?”
Cr Kidd said “effectively” there had only been 11 councillors for close to 18 months since Cr Buckingham had become a member of the Legislative Council.
“He has had parliamentary duties ... he’s hardly been to any bloody meetings,” he said.
“Really, there’s only been 11 [councillors] and if you look at some of the others they don’t put in as much effort, so there’s only nine to 10 active councillors.”
In the past financial year, Cr Buckingham has missed 14 of 22 ordinary council meetings and 18 of 28 sustainable development committee meetings.
But Cr Buckingham defended his absence, saying he had a “standing apology” with general manager Garry Styles and development services director David Waddell.
“I’ve attended hundreds of meetings over eight years,” he said.
“I didn’t want to cost the people of Orange a by-election of hundreds of thousands of dollars [by resigning].”
Cr Buckingham said the people of Orange knew he had busted his back for the community.
“I’ve taken hundreds of phone calls, read through DA’s (development applications), engaged with constituents and raised issues in the media and NSW Parliament - far more than Reg has done,” he said.
“I’m proud of my record on Orange City Council. I’ve been the voice of the community ... Reg is all about himself.”
But Cr Kidd said he took his role as a councillor “very, very seriously”. He suggested Cr Buckingham should have donated his $17,000 annual councillor fee to charity because of his meeting absences.
To reduce the number of councillors the council would have to obtain approval at a constitutional referendum, a spokesperson for the local government department said.
Even if a referendum was held in conjunction with September’s ordinary election, the numbers would not be reduced until the September 2016 ordinary election.