Residents of the Southern Highlands have spoken out in support of Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock's notice of intention to suspend Wingecarribee Shire Councillors.
A notice of intention to suspend Wingecarribee Shire Councillors was issued by the Minister for Local Government on March 3, after repeated calls from the community and state MPs.
An Extraordinary Meeting will be held this afternoon at 4pm to consider correspondence regarding the notice of intention to suspend Wingecarribee Shire councillors.
In an open letter to councillors, Paul Samulski said that the council had been "toxic and dysfunctional" for far too long and called for councillors to step down.
"The ego's, policy on the run and sheer arrogance of this council has done nothing but accelerate the disconnect between the council and the local community," he said.
"A lack of vision and transparency has caused significant community anger and unlike any time in history, it is imperative that as a collective group you all immediately step down from office for an early retirement to give this community a chance to reform, flourish and honour their next elected representative, so once again the residents of this shire can be proud of the local government system."
"The imminent suspension that is looming is a credit to Mr Smith and Ms Tuckerman for listening to the pleas of the broader community for action to be taken.
"From conversations I have had over the past few days, the residents, business owners and stakeholders are indebted to our two local members to having the fortitude to take the first step that has triggered a swift response from the minister."
Wingecarribee Shire candidate Rachel Russell said there was hope that the "dysfunctional" council would not sit again before the September elections.
"Minister Hancock announced that the council would be given a three-month suspension for failing to improve their behaviour despite the support of a Performance Improvement Order," she said.
"A three-month suspension is the maximum allowed for a temporary suspension under the Local Government Act. However, the minister can see fit to extend this after the three months is up. So there is hope that we will not see the Wingecarribee Shire Council sit again before the September 4 election.
"This is not about judgement of the councillors themselves. We know we cannot judge people because we don't walk in their shoes or necessarily understand what they are going through. And respectfully, we acknowledge that this current council had their term extended through the very tough time of COVID."
Former Wingecarribee Shire councillor Gordon Markwart said suspending all councillors would not resolve the problem.
"For this shire to lose its elected Local Government representation would be a travesty of justice as I understand it," he said.
Resident David Letch said he welcomed the call to suspend councillors and the appointment of an administrator.
"Hopefully it will last until the election," he said.
"I hope the newly elected councillors will keep an eye on the future of the shire."
Alexandra Springett said she was dismayed at the notice of suspension.
"One thing I do not tolerate within this community is constant council bashing, both of councillors and staff. Individually and as a team, WCS councillors has worked hard within this tenure and achieved much," she said.
"There's always more to do and be better at it, but that's the case with any organisation, be it governmental, community, or corporate. I believe better outcomes are arrived at when we support leaders in these fields to produce their best and the best is not achieved when you're constantly being punched, nor is function best when you're on your knees.
"I wish we could all stand back, put the dismissive rhetoric aside, and work together towards this September's election in a positive and productive manner. Simply discarding these councillors and placing WSC into state administration is an action that is too simplistic. There are better solutions."
Residents also let their feelings known on the Southern Highland News Facebook page.
Liz Leneve said councillors shouldn't be shocked or disappointed.
"If they did the work they were paid for and worked for the ratepayers instead of their own agenda, then they would have something to whinge about," she said.
Friends of Bowral sent a letter to Minister Hancock, and to Mr Smith, and Ms Tuckerman in response to the three-month suspension notice.
It was signed by Friends of Bowral president John Barrett, vice president Peter Edwards and public officer Clive Probyn.
The letter to the minister said a public inquiry was "desperately required into both the elected representatives and the senior levels of the council's administration."
"The issues of community concern about our council are much wider than the Mayor's proven inability to chair meetings, meeting disruptions, inter-councillor behaviour and discord between councillors and staff," the letter read.
"There is a consistent lack of response to the community, refusal to consult with the community and secrecy in its methods of dealing with the public.
"Three months suspension is not sufficient time under an interim administrator to restore public confidence in this council. The administrator must make deep and searching inquiries into the operational issues of this council within the executive and their failures to serve the community."