Darebin council vows to mend its ways

DAREBIN council is promising to repair its relationship with the community, which has taken a battering following a State Ombudsman's investigation into claims of bribery and conflict of interest.

The council will adopt a new governance charter, which is open to public consultation and promises "greater levels" of transparency, trust, respect and understanding between the council and the community.

It will be implemented through an action plan, which could involve live-streaming council meetings on the internet and increasing the council's visibility in the community.

Darebin Appropriate Development Association spokeswoman Maria Poletti welcomed the memorandum of understanding, and said the community had long called for better consultation and transparency around development and planning issues.

"I think the new council are trying to distance themselves from the old council and that is a good thing," she said.

The move comes almost 12 months after the State Ombudsman opened an investigation into the council following allegations of conflict of interest and bribery. A draft report was released late last year which recommended the current council be sacked. The Ombudsman report is expected to be released soon.

The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate is also investigating the council.

Mayor Tim Laurence denied the charter was a public relations stunt, and said it was a genuine response to community concerns.

Public consultation on the draft document is currently open.

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