Camden mayor denies 'emotional outburst' at chamber of commerce meeting

CAMDEN mayor Lara Symkowiak is "considering her [legal] options" after Camden Chamber of Commerce president Miriam Roberts issued a statement to members accusing the mayor of slander.

Mrs Roberts accused Cr Symkowiak of having an "emotional outburst" when she addressed the September 3 chamber meeting about the council's plans for Camden town centre, and of "slandering" the chamber executive.

In the statement, she said the chamber executive had "advised [the mayor] the day before our general meeting of the intention to record her presentation".

"We did not see anything unreasonable in recording a public figure presenting on a very important public matter at a public event," she said in the statement.

"We had already recorded the [chamber] community forum presentations and we wanted to present our members a balanced and unbiased position on the matter."

Cr Symkowiak said her permission to have her presentation recorded was never sought, and the chamber would not take her no for an answer. She said it was not normal practise to record guest speakers at chamber meetings.

"That whole day of the presentation the chamber tried to bully me into being video-taped."

Cr Symkowiak denied there had been an emotional outburst, saying she had been "calm and measured" and had mentioned the incident briefly before beginning her presentation.

Emohruo financial planner Paul Fitzpatrick, who attended the meeting, said he had been unaware of what the mayor was referring to at the beginning of her presentation, but said she had not had an outburst.

"I don't think it was quite that, but I did find it unusual," he said.

At the same meeting the chamber committee's speaker co-ordinator David Waudby, who is also the chief executive of the South West Sydney Business Enterprise Centre (BEC), resigned his chamber position.

Mrs Roberts' statement blamed this on "the mayor's emotional outburst", but Mr Waudby said he had resigned to focus on his professional relationship with the council through the South West Sydney BEC.

"It is a priority that the BEC maintains a very proactive relationship with Camden Council for the benefit of economic development and it was appropriate that I stand down to protect that role," he said.

Mr Waudby said his decision was not motivated by the incident with the mayor, but that "it was the right time to do it".

He said the South West Sydney BEC would remain a member of the chamber.

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