Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Councillor Vindicated; Toms' Take on Car Park Purchase Proves Correct

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Councillor Vindicated; Toms' Take on Car Park Purchase Proves Correct

Article excerpt


KAREN Toms feels vindicated.

The Clarence Valley councillor stood alone at last week's civil and corporate committee meeting when she spoke about the legal risks associated with accepting a tender from IGA to purchase the Centenary Drive car park land to build a supermarket at Maclean.

Cr Toms outlined to councillors and senior council staff her fears that accepting IGA's tender would leave council open to legal action because IGA's proposal did not comply with the tender process.

She passionately proposed the matter be deferred until further advice was sought by council's legal team.

Instead, the committee voted to accept IGA's tender with the

proposition council work with IGA to resolve the matters not

addressed in the tender.

However, at a full meeting of council on Tuesday, council staff advised councillors new legal advice suggested a cautious

approach should be taken in

relation to accepting the tender.

The councillors, except for Ian Tiley and Pat Comben, agreed and rejected the tender.

aI was proven right. I knew I would be,a Cr Toms said.

aI had every confidence that what I was arguing was correct and I'm pleased we did seek legal advice (because) the legal advice and the ICAC advice that I had ... wasn't being followed.

aIt disappointed me that from the beginning of the tender

process, when I was voicing my concerns by email, no one was listening.a

Cr Toms described Tuesday night's about face as aa very good decisiona.

aNot all of the information we needed was in the report,a Cr Toms said.

aAs councillors, we're expected to make decisions and our heads are on the chopping block.

aI don't like to be critical of staff, but there are times where things aren't right and you have to speak up.

aYou have to do things the right way and due process wasn't being followed.a

Tuesday night's decision means council will now re-enter supermarket negotiations with interested parties, but will not re-open tenders.

In essence, council will sit down with IGA representatives and others who have already

expressed interest, such as Bob Little from SPAR. …

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