Mid Coast Road Services versus Port Macquarie-Hastings Council

I have followed closely the Mid Coast Road Services versus Port Macquarie-Hastings Council case with the Supreme Court. The Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has lost their futile appeal to the Supreme Court of appeals against Mid Coast Road Services. Who does the ratepayer hold responsible and accountable for this four year ongoing debacle?

I wrote to the Supreme Court on 13 March 2017 and again on 21 April 2017 asking to be advised when the deferred judgement was passed down as any concerned ratepayer is entitled to do. I rang five of our current sitting councillors asking them if they voted to proceed back to the Supreme Court of appeals with regard to this matter and only two were prepared to speak to me. Both Peter Alley and Mike Cusato concurred that the decision to appeal to the Supreme Court was an operations matter and that the General Manager, Craig Swift-McNair was responsible. 

On 30 March 2017 I emailed the General Manager to inform him of my conversations with the councillors and to date he has not responded to my email. It does not make sense to me as a ratepayer that a decision of this magnitude, to go back to the Supreme Court and appeal, would be made without a majority vote from the sitting councillors. The ratepayers were already reportedly out of pocket before the appeal. Now that the appeal has been dismissed we are now paying another large amount yet to be determined by the Supreme Court. Who pays for the cost of this futile appeal?

Our councillors need to be more accountable for their decisions as actions have consequences. Perhaps the upcoming by-election could be partially funded by those council employees and councillors responsible for this four year debacle Put your hands in your pockets and make up the shortfall to the ratepayer or resign your positions.

Steve Bryson, Bonny Hills

Editor’s Note: In a statement to the Port News on May 17, 2017, General Manager Craig Swift-McNair stated – “In about 2013, council fell into dispute with Mid Coast Road Services (MCRS) regarding services provided by MCRS to council. 

​”The dispute was unable to be resolved between the parties and MCRS sued council. On December 13, 2016, following a hearing, the Supreme Court found council had breached a contract and were ordered to pay MCRS $217,065 (plus interest), with the total cost including interest being just over $247,000. 

“After careful consideration council exercised its rights to appeal, asking the Court of Appeal to review the decision. Whilst disappointed, we respect the process and the decision, council always prefers, where possible, to resolve disputes without the intervention of the courts.”

Mr Swift-McNair said legal costs are taken into consideration when undertaking action. He said the settlement costs will be funded from the general fund.