GRIFFITH Business Chamber has demanded mayor Mike Neville stand down after a date was set for his retrial on sexual assault charges.
Cr Neville will face trial in Sydney District Court on October 8 after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) announced it would proceed with four charges of aggravated sexual assault and four charges of aggravated indecent assault involving two women between 2003 and 2010.
Cr Neville sat through a 19-day trial in March and April this year before a hung jury was dismissed and the hearing concluded.
Throughout the court process, Cr Neville has repeatedly rejected calls to stand down as mayor.
The second trial will start exactly one month after the Griffith City Council elections.
In a move Cr Neville has branded “background politicking”, the chamber executive committee met on Friday to discuss the impact another trial would have on the Griffith community.
“We’ve agreed to say enough is enough,” chamber president Paul Pierotti said.
“We believe it is in the best interest of the community that Mayor Neville stand down from his position immediately.
“We don’t mind if he remains as a councillor but we believe if we compare council to a business we cannot see how he can remain as focused as the community requires him to be to do his job correctly with this hanging over his head.”
Mr Pierotti said the chamber was not commenting on Cr Neville’s guilt or innocence but called on his fellow councillors to join the campaign for their leader to stand down.
Cr Neville refused to be swayed.
“My position has not changed, that being I will not be standing down from my role as mayor of the city of Griffith,” Cr Neville said.
“I owe it to my family and the large number of community members who placed their trust in me when they elected me to complete the job I was elected to do.
“I have maintained my focus on the community’s needs despite background politicking from some who have yet to make their intentions clear.”
Cr Neville has not decided whether he will run at the September 8 election.
The mayoral role will continue to be popularly elected, despite an attempt to return it to a council-appointed position just days ago.
Councillor Simon Croce put forward a notice of motion at the last council meeting, urging his fellow councillors to consider holding a referendum at the election to retract the public vote for mayor.
It was defeated eight to three, with only councillors Allan Bennett and Dino Zappacosta backing up Cr Croce.
Cr Neville said he had not been approached by any community members asking for the public vote to be retracted and felt the proposal had been a political move by Cr Croce to remove him from office.