Tomorrow is deadline for Freewater
Gosford Council has given Cr Peter Freewater until tomorrow (Tuesday) to apologise to other councillors for behaviour found to be in breach of the council's code of conduct.
However, Cr Freewater has said he will not apologise and threats to have him removed from the council have been thwarted with Local Government Division head Mr Ross Woodward, who has told the council that suspension of Cr Freewater was not justified.
Mr Woodward wrote that no further action was warranted.
"Cr Freewater's conduct while it may have been in breach of Council's Code is not in my view at the serious end of the scale of misbehaviour contemplated by the Act as a condition precedent to suspension."
"I am also of the view that the actions already taken by Council, particularly requiring Cr Freewater to apologise to aggrieved parties, is a sensible and proportionally appropriate outcome to this matter given the nature of the breaches found."
Cr Freewater has said he would not apologise as he was happy to see the issue remain in the media.
"I hope that by refusing to apologise and by exposing Gosford Council for their abuse of the code of conduct that they will think twice before they waste thousands of dollars on legal fees to try and silence legitimate criticism again," said Cr Freewater.
It was resolved at Gosford Council's meeting on Tuesday, January 24, that Cr Freewater be advised in writing that he would be required to show proof of his compliance of Council's previous resolutions.
The resolutions included the provision of a written apology to all councillors except Cr Terri Latella, a public apology in Council's Chambers at an Open Council Meeting and in the local newspaper as a feature advertisement within the first eight pages of the paper and a personal verbal apology in an Open Council Meeting and in writing as a feature advertisement within the first eight pages of the local paper to Cr Chris Holstein and general manager Mr Peter Wilson.
In February last year, Crs Laurie Maher, Craig Doyle, Chris Burke, Chris Holstein, Amy Houston, Jim Macfadyen, Vicki Scott and Jeff Strickson lodged a formal complaint with the general manager Mr Peter Wilson about an interview Cr Freewater gave on ABC Radio and a report in the Central Coast Express Advocate.
The councillors alleged that Cr Freewater showed no respect for the Council or individuals and that this disrespect, using false information, breaching of confidentiality, undermining the authority and reputation of Council, its staff and the Councillors amounted to breaches of Council's Code of Conduct.
The complaint was assessed by the general manager and referred to the external conduct reviewer to undertake an investigation and provide a report on the findings related to the complaint.
The report prepared by council staff for the meeting of Tuesday, January 24, stated that failure by Cr Freewater to comply with the Council resolutions would be a further breach of Council's Code of Conduct.