“Loose cannon” aimed at council

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“Loose cannon” aimed at council

By Bert van Bedaf

CONTROVERSIAL planning agitator Paul Richardson has been labelled a “loose cannon”, with a history of personal attacks and confrontational behaviour.
The self-styled C48 Community Watchdog founder has been fighting against planning amendments imposed on South Gippsland Shire Council by State Planning Minister Justin Madden last May.
The amendment bans dwellings being built on properties in the farming zone of less than 40ha, causing hardship to many landowners.
A former City of Casey councillor, Mr Richardson employs highly personalised and confrontational tactics, which appear to be part of his pattern of conduct.
He has been described as a “loose cannon” by at least one former Casey colleague, who expressed major concerns over Mr Richardson’s behaviour.
The Star contacted Mr Richardson to inform him of the article.
“I did expect to make enemies, and I did. Some councillors did the dirty on me,” Mr Richardson said.
“But I’ve got a following behind me and I’m not going to let councillors off the hook. I’ve stuck my neck out and I’m out there to
fight this to the finish.”
Mr Richardson was a well-known agitator as a councillor until 2008, when he lost re-election in November on preferences.
Although he may have ceased communications with Casey, “it appears he is now targeting South Gippsland Council instead,” Casey councillor Sam Aziz observed.
“There is sufficient evidence of a pattern here that the police should really be engaged to manage him every time if he is a nuisance and a threat to public safety.”
Cr Aziz once accused Mr Richardson of “harassing councillors and council staff by sending a barrage of emails demanding information or action on a number of municipal issues”.
Mr Richardson is now inundating South Gippsland councillors with an avalanche of emails.
“Your disruptive conduct is becoming ever more ridiculous and I think some things really need to be said,” Cr Aziz told Mr Richardson in an
email exchange.
During his three-year stint, Mr Richardson locked horns with several other Casey councillors, including Lorraine Wreford and former councillors Colin Butler, Steve Beardon and Mick Morland.
Mr Beardon said he “was a loose cannon in many ways. Councillors had a lot of problems with Paul. A lot of people got very upset about his
behaviour.”
Cr Richardson levelled numerous allegations against councillors and council staff. He reportedly had to pay a $100 fine, following a council motion, “for calling Casey chief executive Mike Tyler an idiot”.
He was also embroiled in a bizarre controversy after inviting (former) Cr Colin Butler’s estranged wife to the mayoral function.
When the State Government launched a probe into the “dirty dancing” scandal, (Cr) Richardson denied he had danced provocatively with (Cr) Butler’s estranged wife.
The invitation of Ms Butler, who had been separated from her husband for a year, came days after Cr Richardson had accused Cr Butler of assault during an incident at a Casey Council meeting.
“The actions of the continuing disruption and shame brought on to this city, its staff and councillors by Cr Richardson must be publicly condemned by all,” (then) Cr Butler said.
At another occasion a complaint against (former) Cr Paul Richardson was investigated in-house by a council sub-committee.
It considered an allegation by Cr Lorraine Wreford that (former) Cr Richardson made offensive comments about her in front of her son.
“I can’t remember what I said,” (Cr) Richardson reportedly said.
Last week, Cr Wreford stood by her statement made at the time. “He gave those comments to my son. It was unbelievable stuff. It actually happened. I was with him on council for three years and he was problematic to work with. If people feel they are being abused by him, they should take action.”
Since arriving on the South Gippsland scene on September 1 to fight the C48 amendment, Mr Richardson has raised the hackles of
councillors.
The latest spat came during the October 7 council meeting in Mirboo North, when Mr Richardson again insisted councillors replied individually to his questions, which Mayor Jim Fawcett subsequently ruled out of order, saying questions should be addressed to council collectively.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=97

Posted by Chris Brown on Oct 22 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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