Toughen up, councillor tells staff

“Without knowing the detail you’ve got to be kidding, you’ve got to toughen up,” Cr Tony Flanery told Hilltops Council staff at the council’s meeting held at Boorowa last month.

Cr Flannery’s comment was in reference to council’s draft “Unreasonable Complaints Policy”.

Hilltops General Manager Anthony McMahon told the meeting the policy was “how we deal with people who are continual vexatious and perpetual complainers.

Telling it straight: Cr Tony Flanery has told Hilltops Council staff to "toughen up". Picture: Craig Thomson.

Telling it straight: Cr Tony Flanery has told Hilltops Council staff to "toughen up". Picture: Craig Thomson.

“We do get a number of complainants that take up a lot of council resources,” Mr McMahon said.

“They flood us with correspondence where it could be, some up to five pieces of correspondence a day.

“This (policy) is about drawing the line in the sand and saying we aren’t going to respond to that anymore.”

Mr McMahon said the policy is about being more efficient with council resources.

Despite Mr McMahon’s explanation Cr Flanery did not back down from his position and continued to press an alternative view.

“I think where there’s people causing harassment there are plenty of legal avenues open to council,” Cr Flannery said 

“I think we should use those without getting to the nanny state position where we can’t cope with people lodging complaints.”

Cr Matthew Stadtmiller voiced his support of Cr Flanery but neither moved an amendment to the policy.

“If council is being flooded with correspondence could that possibly be a sign that that person isn’t being listened to to a satisfactory manner and it’s not necessarily vexatious,” Cr Stadtmiller said.

“As the person dealing with the bulk of the correspondence,” mayor Brian Ingram said: “I could have a full time job replying to a couple of particular people”.

“I can assure you they haven’t been ignored, I don’t shirk the task and it doesn’t fear me but there are times when you think we could have something in place to make it easier to handle those type of people,” Cr Ingram said.