New Cessnock MP won’t speak in open council

New Cessnock MP won’t speak in open council

BY DONNA SHARPE
13 May, 2011 04:00 AM

RELATIONS appear to be strained between some Cessnock councillors and member for Cessnock Clayton Barr, after the state MP rejected an invitation to address the council on his intentions for the electorate following the March state election.

In a letter to the council Mr Barr said he considered the invitation but would not address an open council meeting.

“I believe that it is not an environment conducive to open conversation,” Mr Barr said in the letter.

“Nevertheless, I would like to meet as soon as possible with councillors to discuss priorities for the [local government area].”

Greens councillors James Ryan and Chris Parker are calling on Mr Barr to reconsider his refusal.

“A state MP has a responsibility to listen to and work with local councils to get the best for the community,” Cr Ryan said.

“Unfortunately Kerry Hickey took the approach of undermining the council as soon as Labor did not have the majority.”

Mr Barr told the Newcastle Herald he declined the offer to attend a council meeting because he did not want to enter into a forum where there would be political point scoring.

“I said I was available to meet with councillors at any time at any place where we can sit down and have a two-way informal conversation, away from the headlines and the cameras,” he said.

Cr Ryan said that as a new member Mr Barr has an opportunity to work constructively with the council and develop a closer understanding of the issues.

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