Weragoda fronts final hearing

SOBERING: He was referred to a code of conduct panel by Cr Helen Leach [left] after being convicted of drink driving in May, but Cr Mark Weragoda says council should move on. Related:Weragoda fronts councillor conduct panel

COUNCILLOR Mark Weragoda says he regrets drink driving but that the City of Greater Bendigoshould move on and leave the matter to the courts.

The councillor for Eppalock fronted his secondCouncillor Code of Conduct panel last Friday in relation to anoffence in March for which hislicence was suspended for 12 months and he was fined $627.

“It’sbeen too long now, that was seven months ago and we don’t need another councillor conduct issue hanging over this council,” he said.

Cr Weragoda said he unreservedly apologised for the incident but had “paid the cost”before the law.

“I got suspended for driving for 12 monthsso every day I wake up, I think about it,” he said.

“It does change your life –there isn’t a day that at least some little aspectisn’t hindered.”

Friday’sevents followed a hearing in JuneandCr Weragodasaid the panel would now retire to make its decision.

“They well truly aware of the fact that I had already publicly apologised and that it’snot a council matter and I’m surethey’ve taken all that into account,” he said.

Councillor Helen Leach referred Cr Weragoda to the panel after he was caught driving with a blood alcohol reading of 0.125 on March 6, initially denying the offence to theBendigo Advertiser.

Cr LeachandCouncillor Elise Chapman alsorequesteda Code of Conduct Panel last week overCouncillorPeter Cox’sgeneral conduct in his role as mayor.

Cr Cox would be the fourth member of the current council to face aCode of Conduct Panel this term– a recordCr Weragoda said wasjeopardizing council’sability to do its job.

“In this day and agemediation seems a much better outcome thanwastingenergy and money [on conduct panels],” he said.

“The quicker we can deal with these issues and move on the better.”

In August, a Code of Conduct Panelordered Cr Chapman apologisefor tweeting an image of children with mutilated genitals to a supporter of Bendigo’s proposed mosque in February.

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