Mayor Peter Blundell said the workshops had been booked in with a facilitator well in advance of the January flood and it had not been feasible to postpone them.
Mayor Peter Blundell said the workshops had been booked in with a facilitator well in advance of the January flood and it had not been feasible to postpone them. Glyn Rees

Critics hit council's 'timing'

MAYOR Peter Blundell has defended council team-building workshops held this week which local business owners say have held up crucial flood repairs.

The Daily News and the Warwick Chamber of Commerce received numerous calls from locals yesterday concerned at the timing of the workshops, held at the Warwick Showgrounds as part of a program to boost staff morale.

All staff were required to attend, with the sessions split between Thursday and yesterday.

Cr Blundell said the workshops had been booked in with a facilitator well in advance of the January flood and it had not been feasible to postpone them.

"The priority focus of council has definitely been on flood recovery," the mayor said.

"The Economic Development Unit have concentrated solely on recovery assistance and work crews have achieved an amazing amount of reconstitution since accessing problem areas.

"The program involving council staff over the last two days is absolutely essential to improving services delivered by council and the CEO has my total support in running this process."

Local businessman Bob Hope, of Hope's Body Repairs, was one of a number of Warwick business people yesterday questioning the timing of the workshops.

Mr Hope said with "major road disruptions" from flood damage hampering normal business activity in the region, the workshops should have been postponed.

"There are a lot of business people and ratepayers in general who are questioning the timing of it," Mr Hope said.

"We are just concerned citizens of the town who are wondering how our rates are being spent, at a time when there is flood damage everywhere affecting business and the general public.

"I have been speaking to people who have been hauling gravel for road repairs in their own time, with their own trucks and at their own expense while the council has been at a workshop."

Mr Hope said he was concerned at suggestions staff who failed to attend had been threatened with disciplinary action and said he believed many had objected to attending at this time.

Chamber of Commerce president David Littleproud said he had fielded numerous calls yesterday about the workshops.

"While the chamber acknowledges the work undertaken by council in respect to the flood recovery works in urban areas, its priority now needs to be focused on delivering the same timely outcomes to outlying areas and farming enterprises," he said.

"It really comes down to a simple matter of priorities, that's why it's disappointing that council could not defer this exercise to focus on repairing flood damaged infrastructure rather than team building exercises.''

On the flipside, at least one council employee who spoke to the Daily News was upbeat about the workshops, saying she had worked in many industries and this week's session had been the best she had attended.

"It started with a motivational type speaker," the employee said.

"Then we went through the survey results from the cultural survey we all completed last year.

"It was team building, but nothing like what I was expecting - it was actually bearable."



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