The City of Sydney Council’s ‘Keep It Local’ push has become a point of contention, with some of the City’s own councillors questioning the initiative’s purpose and independence.
Liberal Councillor Edward Mandla has alleged the initiative is nothing more than an attack on NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s attempts to reform local council boundaries, while both Mr Mandla and Living Sydney Councillor Angela Vithoulkas have raised concerns over the ownership of the Keep It Local website.
On Monday, a City of Sydney spokesperson said: “A keepitlocal.net.au website was established by the City of Sydney, after a Council resolution in June endorsed a community awareness campaign on proposed NSW Government changes to planning laws and local government.”
The spokesperson said the website cost $14,500 to create and maintain, and that its aim was to inform people about the potential impacts of creating “super-sized councils” and other proposed local government reforms.
But according to the WhoIs Lookup registry, the online database of domain names and registrations, the website was in fact established and is owned by sole trader Nell Charlotte Schofield.
Ms Schofield is a long-term supporter of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and ran unsuccessfully on Ms Moore’s election ticket last year.
Mr Mandla said: “At best, this is completely unprofessional. At worst, another misstep for what has to be the Lord Mayor’s worst year ever.”
Ms Vithoulkas asked: “Is Ms Schofield being paid to run this website? Is the City paying consultants to set up and maintain something the City doesn’t own?”
When asked for further clarification, the City of Sydney spokesperson advised City News to direct questions to the Office of the Lord Mayor.
A Lord Mayoral spokesperson said: “Nell Schofield is employed within the Office of the Lord Mayor as a Policy Officer on short-term contract. Her role supports the Lord Mayor to deliver the resolutions of Council. The work includes supporting the Keep It Local website.
“Nell’s extensive communications and journalism experience, and involvement with successful community campaigns … are ideal qualifications for this role.”