The investigation by the NSW Ombudsman into the Conduct of Canterbury City Council has concluded and the findings in the Final report state Canterbury City Council FAILED.
Errs, contradictions, improper conduct, etc... at the senior management level and helm of Canterbury City Council.
Notice of the investigation was previously released at Sydney IndyMedia and although the headlines to it and the related issues appear in search engines - the careless, incompetent actions and inactions of the Council over the last near 7 years and earlier have been lost/destroyed.
The Mallone family are not surprised by the findings or recommendations by the Ombudsman. They have been telling the Council over and over again that the issues raised in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 were handled with complete negligence by Council.
The General Manager Mr Jim Montague and Mayor Robert Furolo had refused to respond appropriately; to address the issues; or investigate the issues over the years. Their view was and remains, the cliff resides on private property therefore the unacceptable risk to people and property was not the responsibility of the Council in anyway. It was an amazing stance they took and that they continue to take knowing full well that Council actions and inactions created the instability in the first place.
When Council stormwater is collected, directed and simply dumped into private properties at the top of a cliff for some thiry or more years, how can this Council simply say the land owner is responsible?
When Council refuses landowners permission to remove damaging trees from the cliff over and over again, and post a geotechnical engineers report being provided to the Council, then again, how can this Council simply say the land owner is responsible?
When Council refuses to provide or address whether major works at the cliff top had Council approval, and it describes these major works as simply minor works and states to the Ombudsman that the works were certified in 2002, yet the Ombudsman finds no evidence of these works being minor nor certified and therefore there was no thorough assessment on the impact of these works to neighbouring cliff property owners land, then how can this Council simply say the land owner is responsible?
The NSW Ombudsman describes the many Council "failures" as "unreasonable conduct". The public would describe the many Council failures as incompetent, negligent and dishonest actions and inactions that occurred knowing full well that an innocent elderly woman was being held responsible and had been threatened with legal action.
These issues were serious safety issues that placed people at an unacceptable risk of injury and death. Geotechnical engineers clearly advised the risk of injury/death was unacceptable in 2003 (200 times above the acceptable standards), yet Council simply sent the problem back to Mrs Mallone's neighbours stating the land owner is responsible. Again, yes land owners are responsible to maintain their property but when Council actions and inactions are the direct result for a collapsing cliff then ultimately, Council was required to do more than pass the buck back to innocent land owners who were prevented from maintaining their land by Council.
Incredibly it wasn't until two full years later when Mrs Mallone (a 6% land owner of cliff) was informed of this 2003 geotechnical report and its recommendations that included, calling on Council involvement!
This Council negligence and refusal to get involved reoccured in 2005 & 2006 and then caused Mrs Mallone to be dragged into the Supreme Courts by her neighbours. For the next three years Council denied it's actions/inactions were negligent, nor the cause for her massive legal debt, now reaching near $250,000. They claimed over and over again the Council investigated the matter, yet the Ombudsman states it found no evidence of any investigations occurring.
Incredibly the General Manager was honored with a Public Service Medal in 2006.
Near five years of hell for an 82 year old woman left with a legal defence bill of near $250,000 and the NSW Ombudsman now confirms it found no evidence of any Council investigation occurring that Council claimed on at least three occasions, had occurred.
The Canterhury City Council Mayor and General Manager simply couldn't be bothered to investigate the complaints or issues raised, allowing the situation to simply worsen.
The first of 18 recommendations is that Canterbury City Council issue an apology to the Mallone family.
A safe Labor seat disgrace where this Council including its Councillors and MP's should hang their heads in shame for not only refusing to act but for refusing to apologise to the numerous innocent people that have had their lives destroyed by their failure to perform their duties.
When this is the conduct of a Council when people's lives were at risk then what conduct is occurring in this Council over the less important issues that Council handles?
Do you believe an apology is all Mrs Mallone is due?