Shire shake-up sees 8 new faces

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EIGHT new councillors have been elected to the 11-member Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.

Three of four councillors seeking re-election regained their seats: Bev Colomb in Briars ward, Antonella Celi in Seawinds and Hugh Fraser, Nepean.

Former councillor David Garnock (Cerberus) was defeated in the 22 October poll which saw 50 candidates contesting 11 seats over six wards.

Joining Crs Colomb, Celi and Fraser on the council will be David Gill (Red Hill); Kate Roper (Cerberus); Julie Edge (Watson); Rosie Clark and Sam Hearn (Briars); Bryan Payne (Nepean); and Simon Brooks and Frank Martin (Seawinds).

Frank Martin is a former shire councillor and David Gill was a councillor with the Shire of Mornington.

The results were finalised on Sunday night and will be officially declared on Wednesday.

It is the biggest shake-up of council members since the formation of the shire in December 1994, when the shire was run by state government-appointed commissioners.

The new councillors will have plenty of opportunity to meet and greet one another before actually attending a meeting likely to test their debating skills.

Apart from the annual meeting and civic reception on Monday 14 November to choose a mayor and deputy mayor, the first meeting as a council will be a “community council meeting” at Somerville on Monday 28 November.

By that time, the councillors will have been able to attend seven of nine planned induction sessions to familiarise them with their new public roles and responsibilities.

The first induction session on Friday (4 November) will include an “introduction and welcome” by shire CEO Carl Cowie, briefings by other senior executives and Terry Bramham, of Macquarie Local Government Lawyers.

With federal and state politicians being accused of having a hypocritical sense of entitlement to the use of taxpayer’s money, so too will the new peninsula councillors be scrutinised for their use of ratepayers’ money.

The previous council, while seemingly having a set $4000 a year for each councillor to spend on such things as attending conferences and seminars and courses, was eventually told by lawyers that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to seek reimbursement if that amount was exceeded. Expenditure by peninsula councillors far exceeded that of their colleagues in the cities of Frankston and Kingston.

Two bus tours are planned for councillors, one on 9 December to look at the shire’s Mornington and Hastings offices and Mornington Regional Gallery before lunch at Yaringa Boat Harbour, Somerville. The afternoon will see councillors tour The Briars, Mt Martha; libraries; Pelican Park, Hastings; foreshores and cemeteries.

The second bus trip on 8 February will see them inspect “planning and infrastructure and capital works projects”.

A councillor Christmas dinner will be held between the two excursions on Wednesday 14 December.

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