Ratepayer and residents calls on councillor behaviour "abuse"

MidCoast Councillors Peter Epov and Len Roberts.
MidCoast Councillors Peter Epov and Len Roberts.

The conduct of one councillor against another at the May meeting of MidCoast Council has been labelled "bullying" by a member of the public.

"Cr Peter Epov was subjected to a savage attack by Cr Len Roberts," wrote Jennifer Kokany. "As a ratepayer and member of this community I am both disgusted and appalled at the abuse perpetrated in this council meeting."

Cr Katheryn Smith had moved that council's draft delivery program and operation plan be put on public exhibition, with some minor amendments, and the motion was seconded by Cr Karen Hutchinson. The meeting was held via live webcast using Zoom.

Cr Peter Epov spoke against the motion, citing the 10 days he had had to review the documentation was insufficient, given the detail involved. He also spoke about "inconsistencies" between the operational plan and 70-page budget and had at least "200 items to be clarified."

Mayor David West intervened after Cr Epov's five minute time allocation had expired. He suggested Cr Epov put in a submission to council on the budget and operational plan - as any member of the public is entitled to - adding that councillors are members of the public.

Cr Len Roberts said he "took exception" to some aspects of Cr Epov's "speech".

"It's kindergarten," he said. "(Cr Epov) needs to go back to school." Cr Roberts added that Cr Epov's "conduct was reprehensible".

"Why is Cr Roberts allowed to abuse people?" Cr David Keegan asked. "You (the mayor) just let him go off."

"I endeavoured to stop Cr Roberts eight times," Mayor West said.

"You're very quick to jump on Cr Epov," Cr Jan McWilliams said. "(Cr Epov) didn't have his five minutes."

Mayor: "You have five minutes to speak, I allowed Cr Epov six and a quarter minutes."

"I didn't jump on anyone," Mayor West countered. "I pointed out that this is a draft document to go out to the community for comment."

After calling for council to get "back on topic", Cr Smith spoke to her motion, saying council staff had done incredible work behind scenes and she found the DPOP (draft development plan and operation plan) "really exciting."