Clearing the air

Clearing the air

A meeting to deal with the fallout from Cr Dick Ellis’ comments at October’s mayoral election was held at the East Gippsland Shire Council offices last Tuesday morning.

The in-camera meeting was attended by five current councilors, including the mayor, Cr Natalie O’Connell, and a handful of businessmen from Bairnsdale.

A prominent businessman was unable to attend and offered his apologies.

Cr Mark Reeves and Cr Marianne Pelz also reportedly apologised in advance for their absence.

However, the Advertiser has been told there appeared to be some surprise that Cr Ellis wasn’t in attendance.

“It just stinks,” one of the businessmen told the Advertiser.

“The Mayor was also disappointed he wasn’t there and apologised to us.”

“The fact that he wasn’t there meant we couldn’t ask the questions we wanted to raise,” another businessman said.

“But we won’t be dropping the ball in any respect regarding this issue.”

The businessman confirmed that there were sections of the business community who would be reluctant to accept an apology from Cr Ellis.

This newspaper has been told that the resignation of Cr Ellis would go along way toward appeasing the business community.

“My preference would be for him to resign,” one of the businessman said.

The Lakes Entrance-based councillor has largely been silent following his speech at the mayoral election last month in which he questioned the conduct of outgoing mayor, Cr Joe Rettino, and several businessmen in the community.

Recently elected mayor, Cr Natalie O’Connell, said council is working towards a resolution.

“We are talking with concerned parties about comments that were made at the Statutory Meeting on October 30 with regard to the Councillor Code of Conduct,” Cr O’Connell said.

“The chief executive officer and I are working through a process with all parties to gain a resolution and allow everyone to move forward.”

Attempts were made to contact Cr Ellis for comment.