Ryde Mayor found to have breached code of conduct with website link

Cr Laxale said: “He made that assessment and I respect the process.”

“There was a page that had details for people to volunteer, to work together collectively on an issue,” the mayor said. But he had since removed the link to the volunteer page, he said. The letter had been distributed to residents near a potential light rail line at Melrose Park.

“I take the utmost care in these things. It is what it is, and I’ve removed the offending page and I’ll carry on.”

The complainant was a local Liberal Party branch member, Mitch Geddes, who said the council appeared to “be a willing recruit to the cause of promoting the mayor”.

“I’m a bit of a due process boffin,” Mr Geddes said. “There’s been a finding here that something wrong was done.”

Cr Laxale and Mr Dominello have been embroiled in increasingly fractious pre-election politicking, which in instances has had ramifications for state government policy.

Mr Dominello has been leading a charge against perceived over-development in the area, blame for which he pins on the council. For his part, Cr Laxale attributes changes in the area to the imposition by the government of two so-called planned precincts of concentrated development.

Mr Dominello has already secured a moratorium on new residential rezoning proposals in the area. And this week it emerged that the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has asked the Greater Sydney Commission to undertake an “assurance review” of planning in Ryde.

On Tuesday night, Ryde City Council voted to recommend refusal of a 42-storey residential tower at Macquarie Park, a proposal to which Mr Dominello had been particularly vehement in his opposition.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council resolved to “effectively communicate” this decision to residents, while “noting deliberate and misleading political commentary” surrounding the proposal.

Mr Dominello warned the resolution could amount to a waste of ratepayers’ money. “Once again, the people of Ryde are being forced to foot the bill for the mayor’s blatant political propaganda.”

Cr Laxale, however, pointed out that the vote for the resolution was bipartisan among councillors.

“It is pretty common practice for council to notify the community about decisions,” he said.

Jacob Saulwick is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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