Ombudsman’s findings lead to council apology

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Ombudsman’s findings lead to council apology

Robe Deputy Mayor Nick Brown made a verbal public apology at the monthly council meeting on Wednesday night.

He apologised for not declaring a conflict of interest at two council meetings earlier this year when matters relating to then Robe District Council chief executive James Holyman were discussed by the council.

Cr Brown had been the subject of an adverse finding from State Ombudsman Wayne Lines who found he had erred.

Mr Lines said the matter would be settled if Cr Brown made a public apology for his actions at a council meeting.

The 12-page report from Mr Lines formed part of the agenda.

At the start of the meeting, Cr Brown stated he had a conflict of interest with respect to the report by Mr Lines as he was the subject of it.

When the time came to discuss the Ombudsman’s report, Cr Brown declared a conflict of interest and vacated the chamber.

The council then deliberated for four minutes and voted to accept the report by Mr Lines.

Cr Brown then returned to the meeting chamber and made the apology.

“In accordance with the Ombudsman’s recommendation, I wish to make a public apology in relation to the Ombudsman’s investigation into my non-disclosure of a general conflict of interest,” Cr Brown said.

“I ask that my public apology be recorded in the minutes of this meeting.”

The council meeting was chaired by Robe Mayor Lisa Ruffell.

She also declared a conflict of interest at the same two occasions on Wednesday night as Cr Brown as she was named in the Ombudsman’s report.

However, Mayor Ruffell decided to remain in the meeting chamber when the report was discussed.

In his report, Mr Lines said he had acted on complaints and provided a background dating back more than four years.

He pointed out that Mr Holyman and Cr Brown had previously worked for the Robe District Council.

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