Ratepayers charged for ‘lemongate’ saga

Ratepayers charged for ‘lemongate’ saga

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More complains, lemons and ratepayers paying the sour price.

The Lemongate scandal continues to be a sour topic at council.

After a bag of free lemons was taken from the roadside of an Orange Grove property last year, City of Gosnells mayor Glenn Dewhurst submitted a formal complaint to the department of local government stating it was a bribe.

As previously reported in The Examiner, during a site meeting on June 22, 2018 at a property on Valcan Road, councillors David Goode, Olwen Searle, Terresa Lynes, Julie Brown and Julie Jones attended to meet the property owner.

Resident Kathleen Edmonds told everyone to ‘grab a bag of lemons’ after leaving
the meeting as her lemon tree was overflowing.

Mr Dewhurst didn’t attend but was informed by Ms Lynes about Mr Goode grabbing a bag of lemons after the meeting.

Mr Dewhurst also filed a complaint about Mr Goode’s voting patterns in council and councillor Olwen Searle for raising a question in council in regards to a trip to Williams.

Fast-forward to today and no breach has been found following the allegations. Instead the council has been left with a $1634.57 bill in relation to two of these complaints, which is to be paid by ratepayers.

Of that amount, $1058.33 is related to Mr Goode accepting the infamous bag of
lemons.

“How ludicrous that a ratepayer, who was simply trying to be polite, could be accused of such action is beyond me,” Mr Goode said.

“This is an unnecessary use of ratepayer’s funds.

“I wonder if the mayor will offer to pay this back, I doubt it.

“Having said that I do note future intentions of the Local Government Act may actually ask those councillors who make frivolous complaints to indeed repay the costs incurred.”

Mr Dewhurst didn’t attend Tuesday’s council meeting but said he believes Mr Goode’s statements are incorrect and even called them ‘total rubbish’.

“All I am doing is focusing on progressing the city and working on the many issues we have,” he said.

Mr Dewhurst didn’t want to comment any further.

In addition, Mr Goode talked about the mayor’s complaint against his voting pattern.

“According to the mayor, it is sport for me and other to move motions against him,” he said.

If you go back and look at motions against the mayor, they have centred around encouraging the mayor to follow the city’s code of conduct and rules as past mayors have done.

“I think it’s critical that as councillors we must adhere to standards and the rules, if you don’t you have anarchy and chaos.”

City of Gosnells director of business services Grant Bradbrook confirmed that under the provision of the Local government Act, the giver and receiver of an electoral gift in excess of $200 must declare any such gift made within three days of it being made.

He also said failure to declare an electoral gift, if convicted, can result in a fine of up to $5000 and disqualification from sitting as councillor.

This is the first time a gift register has been published on the city’s website.

Disclosure of electoral gifts is required by both the candidate and donor under the regulations.