Update Thursday: Councillor John Robinson has confirmed he hasn't officially notified Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Sunil Bhalla about his decision to step aside from the council.
"I have asked that all my allowances are ceased," he said.
He said he wanted to reiterate that his non-attendance at Wednesday's special council meeting was not by choice, but rather due to a prior specialist appointment.
At that meeting a motion he moved seeking to rescind the plan to exhibit a 20-year vision for Horsham was defeated by four votes to two. Councillor David Grimble moved the motion in his absence.
"I've been denied the procedural process and that the mayor has denied me the chance to speak," Cr Robinson said.
"It's also disappointing that the council has released a plan that has glaring problems. I will not support long-standing clubs in the community being told their time is up. Our community is not stupid and they deserve better."
He said he was "grateful" Cr Grimble raised the motion on his behalf.
"But I am exceptionally disappointed that I couldn't speak to it," he said.
"I just wonder how many community groups we have to upset before we do something."
Cr Robinson said if he didn't retain his position on the council, he would still remain a "very concerned ratepayer".
In regards to the email Business Horsham sent to its members, Cr Robinson said he didn't support a "witch hunt" of council officers.
"If a low-level staff member of the council gets a flogging (over the email), that would definitely not be something I'd support," he said.
Mr Bhalla confirmed that no further correspondence had been received from Cr Robinson.
Wednesday: A twenty-year-plan to transform Horsham's CBD and riverfront is now on public exhibition for at least the next 28 days after a packed and tense special meeting at Horsham Rural City Council on Wednesday night.
Councillors voted down a rescission motion to prevent the plan from going out on public exhibition.
The man who moved the motion, Councillor John Robinson, was unable to attend the meeting due to prior engagements.
Councillor David Grimble moved the motion in Cr Robinson's absence, with the motion seconded by Cr Alethea Gulvin. The motion was defeated after only Cr Grimble and Cr Josh Koenig voted in favor.
The Wimmera River Precinct and Central Activity District Vision and Master Plan includes suggestions such as a third Wimmera river crossing, cafe, boardwalk and new sports precinct in the area between the river and Baillie Street.
Cr Grimble accused council of calling the special meeting in a lawful but undemocratic way.
"I can sense Cr Robinson's dissatisfaction," he said.
"He set the date for that to be debated at the next ordinary meeting, and that was ignored a matter of hours after coming through," he told the chamber.
"It's valid but it's not fair and it's not democratic. You have denied the media and the community (the chance) to understand what further Cr Robinson might have added to the debate."
Cr Robinson moved the rescission motion at the June 24 ordinary meeting.
Earlier this week, he announced he was stepping down until the master plan issue was resolved due to alleged "bullying" in Horsham Rural City Council, an allegation since denied by chief executive Sunil Bhalla and mayor Mark Radford.
Cr Robinson also expressed his disdain for the master plan over the lack of consultation with councillors and Wimmera River user groups.
Cr Grimble read an email from Business Horsham where it asked members to provide feedback on the plan, though Mr Bhalla said everything was "on hold" until after the rescission motion was dealt with.
"This is not about this project, it's about following due process. This is council-driven, when I read an email saying someone's already pushed the button and sent this out, it mystifies me.
"This council has decided to give quasi-in principle support, allocate $850,000 and accept $1.65 million in federal funding to cherry pick what it likes out of the plan without understanding the vision of some user groups."
After the meeting Cr Grimble said he intended to moved a motion at the next ordinary meeting to extend consultation to 60 days.
He said he had wished to be consulted about the master plan one on one so he could ask questions about the user groups affected and how it fit in with other council plans.
Council staff opened the collapsible wall at the back of the room to allow all attendees - in excess of 60 - to see the meeting.
Mr Bhalla said council would investigate whether an official had contacted Business Horsham prior to the rescission motion.
"We now start the exhibition process for the plans, we were withholding it because of the rescission motion. We all agree there is merit in extending the exhibition period," he said.
He said councillors were briefed again on the master plan on Monday night, "to let them know what consultation had been undertaken".
At the meeting
Cr Grimble asked the CEO and mayor questions around the validity of the meeting and motion, how the meeting date came about and what consultation occurred with Cr Robinson.
Cr Radford said Cr Robinson provided his rescission motion on Wednesday following the meeting, and that he then discussed with the CEO the soonest possible date to hold another meeting.
Councillor Grimble then read aloud an email he claimed Business Horsham sent members on Thursday June 27, asking them to provide feedback to the council on the master plan. He asked if the rescission motion was valid in light of the email.
CEO Sunil Bhalla said council had put everything on hold ahead of Wednesday night's meeting. Mr Bhalla said he would investigate when a council officer approached Business Horsham on the matter.
Councillor Grimble moved the motion, seconded by Councillor Gulvin.
Cr Grimble says council adopted its local laws and voted to not increase meeting frequency; yet we are here tonight with a special meeting. He says Cr Robinson could not be here and that’s not fair.— Jessica Grimble (@grimble_j) July 3, 2019
Cr Grimble said the email proved council pulled the trigger early with consultation, and that Cr Robinson's views should be shared and understood.
He called for a minimum of 60 days of consultation to the master plan and maintained he had never been consulted or work shopped or interviewed about it.
Councillor Pam Clarke said the document had taken months to prepare and that it was "arrogant of us (councillors) to say we know better than consultants and the community. This is about saying let's hear from the community and what they want, and then it can come back and then we can have a detailed discussion as councillors about what we can and can't achieve".
"It's a 20 year plan for heaven's sake. We're not sorting it all out today or tomorrow," she said. "I just want this document to go out."
Cr Gulvin said she seconded the motion because she wanted to hear from the community.
"I have had some emails and phone calls about it, which means people are discussing this and want to see change happen," she said.
"I don't believe the document to be put out is going to be seen as something that needs to happen, or that the ramifications without asking more views will be positive, and i don't believe council has that intention in mind."
Mayor Radford said user groups that would be affected by the plan had been consulted and provided dates on when.
Cr Grimble then said having already accepted federal funding for the project, council would "cherry pick" feedback". He said council had called the meeting in a lawful but "undemocratic" way.
The motion to rescind the exhibition phase was defeated four votes to two, with Councillors Grimble and Koenig voting in favor and councillors Radford, Power, Gulvin and Clarke voting against.
Cr Power initially voted in favor of the rescission motion, but after Cr Grimble called for a recount changed his vote. Cr Power said he always intended to vote against and put his hand up too early.
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