Shields calls for an internal ombudsman for council

Ben Shields.

Ben Shields.

Former Dubbo deputy mayor Ben Shields said he wants to see an independent internal council ombudsman appointed to oversee Dubbo Regional Council’s policies and procedures.

Mr Shields said if elected he would push hard for an ombudsman, who would oversee complaints and ensure decisions were fair and accurate.

"Locals know that there are always issues with council - any council. Obstruction and inconsistent decisions can really drag down the reputation and efficiency of the entire organisation,” he said.

“Appointing an ombudsman will help keep check on that.”

Mr Shields said other councils had appointed internal ombudsmen and he felt Dubbo was big enough to warrant such a position.

“Imagine the transparent possibilities for everyone who had dealings with council had an independent qualified person they can lodge a complaint with that answers only to the elected council,” he said.

“Everything from simple service provision, though to complex development applications could have a professionally based person who can provide scrutiny on the actual operations of council.”

Mr Shields said the merger of Dubbo and Wellington councils had led to significant savings in wages, with one less general manager and 10 less councillors.

He said the addition of an ombudsman would be affordable and could actually save money in improved efficiency.

“The ombudsman could also work for a number of councils, similar to the way councils share our road safety officers,” he said.

“They could even be an OROC ombudsman, who services all the OROC [Orana Regional Organisation of Councils] councils right out west to Bourke.”

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