THREE Warrnambool City councillors have decided to sleep at home in their own beds rather than accept the offer of an overnight stay during a council conference in Port Campbell.
Instead, they will drive back from the conference venue by private car and return the next morning.
Councillors Brian Kelson, Peter Hulin and Peter Sycopoulis told The Standard yesterday they considered the all-expenses-paid workshop venue a waste of ratepayers’ money and said it should be held in Warrnambool.
On February 25 and 26 the seven city councillors and five senior officers and a facilitator will shut themselves within a Port Campbell conference centre to thrash out big decisions on the four-year council plan and budget spending priorities.
Discussions are likely to continue into the evening of February 25.
Mayor Michael Neoh said he was disappointed the trio would not be lingering later, but said he respected their decision.
“The informal interaction between fellow councillors and senior officers is valuable and gives us a chance to know each other a bit better,” Cr Neoh said.
“The reason why the conference is held out of town is that there are less distractions and we can knuckle down to work sessions. It’s dedicated time and certainly not a social occasion.”
Cr Kylie Gaston said she was also disappointed not all would stay for the informal evening discussions.
Cr Kelson said the workshop should have been held in Warrnambool. “If we had to spend the night at a resort this should be done in our city because traders have not really got over the effects of Banksia, Telstra and Southern Financial,” he said.
“For these reasons I will not be a burden to the ratepayers, so I will be travelling down and back to Port Campbell each day in my car at my expense.”
Cr Hulin described the provision of overnight accommodation at an out-of-town venue as an “obscene waste of ratepayers’ money”.
“I’ve attended a previous conference at Port Campbell and know the benefits do not warrant the expense.
“Those discussions can be done in Warrnambool.”
Cr Sycopoulis said he chose to spend the night with his family and would probably share a car ride to and from Port Campbell.
“Why spend money out of town when it could be done in Warrnambool?” he asked.