Unruly time in council recalled

Humpty Dumpty: Former Wollondilly councillor Lynette Styles says like the nursery rhyme character, the council left her feeling broken when it
Humpty Dumpty: Former Wollondilly councillor Lynette Styles says like the nursery rhyme character, the council left her feeling broken when it "unmercifully screwed me to fine dust and threw me out". Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

FORMER councillor Lynette Styles has likened the turbulent time she experienced while on Wollondilly Council to being "cannibalised by zealots" and that writing about it has given her a "sense of justice".

Her new book Kangaroo Court is her account of the four-year term she served on the council from 1995 where she said she was persecuted and marginalised - both in open council and behind closed doors - and her integrity compromised.

Ms Styles stood for council election because she believed she would be a "good councillor who would represent the community well".

And besides, she said, with a forebear the first member of the Victorian senate, politics was in the blood.

"So is a sense of justice," she said.

But just weeks into the role she says she became a target.

Asked what she thought was the motivation behind the "vicious" attacks, Ms Styles said: "I was an independent . . . I wouldn't be dictated to on how to vote. They went out of their way to annihilate me."

Her lowest point, she said, was being expelled after she refused to apologise for an outburst at a meeting in which she called mayor Christine Towndrow a "bitch and a liar".

"I always maintained my dignity and decorum so the outburst was unlike me," she said.

She fought the expulsion through the courts claiming it was unlawful. The exercise was costly - almost $200,000 - and her bid failed.

So why did she choose to endure the "assaults" and not resign?

"I could have walked away but . . . the Irish stubbornness in me wasn't prepared to let them win," she said.

But it left her feeling broken and depressed, she said.

The experience didn't turn her off politics. Ms Styles gave both state and federal politics a tilt, joining a political party for the first time when she stood for the seat of Hume in 2013 for One Nation.

And in 2012, when the council revealed it would fight the federal government's plan to build an airport at Wilton, Ms Styles resumed her role of community campaigner and started the Wollondilly Residents and Ratepayers Association to oppose the council's campaign.

"I'm the ghost that has come back from the past to rattle their (council's) chains," she said.

"I'm still fighting for the community but past experience means I am cautious now in how I do it."

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