1. I am informed that at the November Council Meeting you called for the buildings around the oval not to be sold. In a recent addition of the Gazette you are quoted as saying something like let's sell the buildings for community benefit. Is the quote correct and secondly how do you justify this backflip in such a short space of time? Please specify the Community benefits which apparently are now available however were not available in November?
2. You have made several statements about the importance of community consultation. I can only assume that you consulted with local residents when you called for not selling the buildings.
Please describe how you consulted with those same people when you did your backflip?
In your first paragraph of Free Speech you claim that you have published all blogs without fear or favour. Given the conversations on your site this afternoon and your backflip on the buildings around the oval how are we to believe that you have published all postings in the past?
Firstly, welcome Pauline and thanks for your question. As a general remark to all readers, don't rely on what others tell you I have said (or even what it says in the Gazette), come along to a council meeting or workshop and hear it first-hand for yourself. As my colleague Cr James Graham used to say, "Get amongst it". Most of my remarks at council meetings are considered and prepared in advance, and are posted afterwards on this blog, so there is no need to depend on hearsay.
On to the answers to Pauline's questions.
1. At my first council meeting, in late November, I had this to say about the buildings next to the Oval (or read the whole thing here): I do not support the desire to sell the buildings known as Derwent, Esperance, Bronte and Glenora, but if I lose that argument we must ensure that the associated car parks are not sold. We must not get ourselves into a repeat of the ridiculous sale of roads and footpaths on the site.
1a. I do not have the relevant issue of the Gazette handy, but it quoted me from my blog where I commented on the decision to seek tenders for the sale of the oval, with or without the buildings: Personally I am not in favour of selling any part of Willow Court, but it is clear that the funds raised from any sale will help to preserve and promote the real gem of that site, our barrack square. Further on I wrote: "I successfully gained agreement that the car park on The Avenue not be offered for sale" and "The Willow Court conservation management plan says the buildings known as Derwent, Esperance, Glenora and Franklin Houses cannot be demolished (some councillors thought they could be pulled down)."
2. I have not performed a backflip. My position on the sale of the buildings has not changed and I continue to speak in exactly the same way. The problem is that I have not been successful in convincing enough councillors to vote my way in this matter. Even so, at this stage the council has not decided to sell the buildings, only to seek tenders. When the council meets to consider any offers, I will continue to say that I do not wish to see those buildings sold.
2a. I consider myself to be in a constant state of community consultation, whether it be through my advertising in the Derwent Valley Gazette, this blog, via email, by telephone, in the street, in a shop or cafe or anywhere else. I believe I can safely say that I consult more widely than almost any other councillor with the probable exception of Cr Scott Shaw. Indeed, which other councillors have provided an opportunity for comment or questions in the way I have?
To address your final point, I am not obliged to publish any person's comments on my blog, but I do so in nearly every circumstance. This has been adequately discussed already. My comments policy is far broader than that employed by the Mercury and the Gazette, and on the subject of the Gazette, how many Letters to the Editor have you seen published in it lately?
I say in all sincerity that I value your comments and questions, even more so because you have been prepared to at least provide your given name in this case. If you see me around I hope that you will make yourself known to me, so I can say: "I'm pleased to make your acquaintance Pauline." If there are any matters I can assist you with, please email me on email@example.com
Cheers to all readers,