New Lithgow mayor Stephen Lesslie has first Mayoral Minute voted down

A council motion for a Christmas function, to the tune of $5000, to thank local community groups for their efforts was lost at the latest council meeting on Monday.

Put on the agenda by new mayor Stephen Lesslie as part of his first Mayoral Minute, Cr Lesslie wanted a chance to thank community groups who are the “social fabric” of our area.

The item caused contention among councillors, some of whom took issue with the event’s cost.

There were also questions from councillors on what defined a community group, and the possibility if a particular group was left out it may cause some dissent.

Councillor Ray Thompson moved an amendment for the money to be redirected to the council’s staff Christmas party.

Cr Thompson reasoned he had read complaints from a staff survey that said management was “quick to condemn, but very slow to acknowledge some [staff] initiative”.

“I believe this would rebuild morale to a certain extent,” he said.

Councillor Maree Statham raised the price issue, and said an afternoon tea for volunteers she started in 2013, which costs around $300 to $400 to hold according to her, was a sufficient way to show appreciation.

Cr Statham said the idea of a Christmas party with this price tag was a bad one when council is getting its finances in order to avoid a possible amalgamation.

“The [afternoon tea] was something that has happened in May this year,” she said.

“We are a council that is battling to be fit for the future, we do not need to be spending $5000 of the ratepayers’ money… to have such a fiasco.”

Cr Statham found support in new councillors Joe Smith and Steve Ring.

Cr Smith said the money proposed for the function should go to potholes, while Cr Ring said if the mayor wanted to thank community groups for their time he would have to take time to visit them himself.

Deputy Mayor Martin Ticehurst spoke in favour in the motion, who said he couldn’t argue against $5000 being spent for a function if the last council “wasn’t prepared to stop $950,000 getting lost on the indoor pool”.

Cr Lesslie has since confirmed he will be organising a Christmas function out of his own pocket.

The function is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13 at the Lithgow Workmen’s Club.