Sunday, June 23, 2024

NCAT ditches sacked councillor’s unlawful dismissal claim

Upper Hunter Shire Council says residents can be assured no costs were incurred by ratepayers in defending a court case brought against Council by former Councillor, Elizabeth Flaherty.

The case related to the sacking of then-Councillor Flaherty after she failed to attend three consecutive Council meetings without seeking a leave of absence, as required under section 234 of the Local Government Act, the Council said in a statement.

Ms Flaherty lodged a request for the decision to be reviewed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

“Council was confident that it had followed the proper process in accordance with the law. To avoid burdening the community with unnecessary expenses, Council’s General Manager represented Council in the proceedings before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), rather than engaging solicitors,” the Council stated.

“Council is pleased to announce that NCAT has dismissed Ms Flaherty’s application, confirming that Council’s actions were appropriate and lawful.”

The outcome has prevented costly legal fees, reinforcing Council’s commitment to responsible financial management and transparency, it said.

“Our focus remains on serving the community and ensuring that all actions taken by Council are in the best interests of our residents,” said Mayor, Maurice Collison.

“We are relieved that this matter has been resolved without incurring costs to ratepayers and can now continue to concentrate on delivering essential services and projects for the Upper Hunter Shire.”

The outcome follows a decision at the extraordinary Council meeting on 6 May, where Council resolved to apply to the Minister for Local Government to dispense with the need for a by-election to fill the vacancy, due to the significant costs involved.

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