No campfires and singing but air cleared in FCO rift

Councillors and staff at the meeting in Hervey Bay.
Councillors and staff at the meeting in Hervey Bay. Mitch Crawley

THEY "didn't hold hands and sing Kumbaya" but councillors walked away from yesterday's Fraser Coast Opportunities meeting ready to move forward, says Mayor Gerard O'Connell.

Following months of infighting and an underlying push by some to bring the promotion of the region back under council control, a 2½ hour meeting apparently ended with not one change to the current FCO structure but significant adjustments in the attitude of the region's elected representatives.

While a clear divide had emerged in recent weeks between the mayor and four of his colleagues - councillors James Hansen, Rolf Light, Darren Everard and Chris Loft - Cr O'Connell insisted that everyone had gone to yesterday's meeting embarrassed by the public way in which frustrations had been aired and keen to deal with unresolved issues with the professionalism the community expected.

Cr O'Connell said he understood various corners of the community - business leaders and some of FCO's former directors had criticised councillors for allowing the rift to get in the way of productivity - wanted a positive outcome.

He insisted that after a "robust discussion", all councillors agreed to support FCO in its current format with Cr O'Connell as chair and directors remaining unchanged.

"What happened here today was very healthy for the region," Cr O'Connell said. "We all agreed too much was at stake, that the issue was bigger than council and the councillors. There will always be room for debate but we have taken a collective breath and will continue to work together."

Topics:  fraser coast opportunities fraser coast regional council gerard oconnell

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