The Blue Mountains Liberal Party is reeling from accusations of "skulduggery" - and the claims are being made by one of their own.
Ward 3 councillor and former Mayor Daniel Myles said it's about a plan to knock him out of pre-selection contention for next year, by what he claims is a pro-development faction. He said it was also an attempt to influence his vote.
Cr Myles has accused the president of the Blue Mountains Local Government Conference of the Liberal Party, Timothy Donelan, of "skulking outside my home on Tuesday night with the purpose to catch me on video taking a lift to council with the Labor mayor". He has called on Mr Donelan to resign.
"I don't even take lifts to council, I drive myself there and back. There are people in the Liberal party spying on an elected official, invading the privacy of a former mayor."
He said he was notified on the weekend of plans to film him with the mayor, a video he believed a certain faction of his party would use against him during the pre-selection period. Pre-selection starts this October and runs until next March. The Local Government elections will be in September 2020. After hearing the news Mr Myles organised for two of his friends to be on the street with their phones to video the alleged filmer.
"They wanted to collect evidence that was detrimental to myself. There has been consistent interest in my voting record by the pro-development faction - a cabal - of the Liberal party."
He told the Gazette the matter showed there was "a cancer in the party".
Cr Myles has notified police and NSW Liberal Party head office of the "unsavoury skulduggery" and raised the matter publicly at last Tuesday's council meeting (July 30).
"I've given police a statement. If he comes back it will be stalking and may constitute an offence".
A spokesman for the NSW Liberal Party told the Gazette "we have information that we are currently reviewing".
Cr Myles said there was no reason for the president to be in his quiet street.
When questioned by the Gazette at council, Mr Donelan of Faulconbridge said he had no knowledge of Cr Myles's address, no camera, and was just waiting in a quiet street reading [The Marmalade Files a political novel by Canberra journalists Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann] while waiting for a lift to council with Cr Brendan Christie.
But the following morning he told the Gazette "you caught me unawares due to the late hour of your questions" and wanted to give a "more complete picture of the events".
"Contrary to Daniel's assertion in his opening address this 'incident' was an attempt to influence his voting behaviour, I can assure you I have NEVER discussed future votes with any Liberal councilor nor have I attempted to affect their votes in any way."
Mr Donelan admitted he had a very old digital camera on his passenger seat with a faulty battery and decided not to leave his car in the street because "there were two individuals unknown to me next to Daniel during this strange confrontation, one of whom was covering his face. I felt uncomfortable leaving my car where it was known by these individuals (with some of my wine visible in the back of my wagon)". (Full statement below)
There's a cancer in the party
Cr Christie said he was contacted that evening and asked to give Mr Donelan a lift from Springwood's Macquarie Road. This was not unusual as he had given him lifts before. But he said at no stage was he asked to pick Mr Donelan up from the Springwood cul-de-sac where he was found by Cr Myles.
Cr Myles said Mr Donelan "has critiqued myself and Chris Van der Kley in Local Government Conference meetings for not voting with [fellow Liberal Party] Crs [Kevin] Schreiber and Christie".
Blue Mountains Deputy Mayor and Ward 2 Cr Chris Van der Kley said he also felt his position was being threatened.
"I can confirm that I too am being challenged by a faction within my party. I choose to vote on the merits of the issues and I believe this group would prefer I took a more political approach. This is not consistent with putting community first," Cr Van der Kley said.
Statement to the Gazette from Timothy Donelan
You caught me unawares due to the late hour of your questions last night. Four things I'd like to clear up to give you a more complete picture of the events in question:
1. You asked me did I have a video recorder and I replied "no", truthfully. I did have a very old (15 years) digital camera on the passenger seat next to me. The camera has a faulty battery (which I've kept to assure any who may wish to confirm that) and as my wife and I are travelling next week I took it with me to purchase a new battery in my customers' rounds.
2. If Daniel showed you the video footage of me in my car you may've noticed the light was very dark. To make an assumption the camera was there for any nefarious purposes would be quite incorrect: without a decent lighting system and a working battery in my camera it is impossible.
3. There were two individuals unknown to me next to Daniel during this strange confrontation, one of whom was covering his face. I felt uncomfortable leaving my car where it was known by these individuals (with some of my wine visible in the back of my wagon) in the street next to Springwood Public School, so I drove up to Macquarie Road and parked it under a street light where I met my lift. It was the only spare parking spot in the street at the time, which is why I didn't choose Macquarie Road in the first place.
4. Contrary to Daniel's assertion in his opening address this "incident" was an attempt to influence his voting behaviour, I can assure you I have NEVER discussed future votes with any Liberal councilor nor have I attempted to affect their votes in any way.