The Beagle Editor, Beagle readers may be interested in the latest episode in the saga of Eurobodalla Shire Council, The Office of Local Government (OLG) and the banishment of Mr Joe Potts from the Eurobodalla Council chambers. I would like to share my latest letter to Councillors. Councillors,
As you are probably aware, I have been making enquiries of council and OLG, as to whether correct procedure was followed in the banning of Mr Joe Potts from public forum and council chambers.
On 24th April 2018 the OLG responded to my enquiries.
OLG stated that council cannot ban a member of the public from council chambers, as the Chair insisted on doing.
Council can however, ban members of the public from Public Forum so long as the correct procedure is followed as prescribed under council’s Code of Meeting Practice.
In regard to the above procedure, OLG stated:
“On the available information, it is unclear whether the procedural requirements prescribed under paragraphs (15) and (16) of clause 5.10 of ESC’s Code of Meeting Practice have been correctly applied in banning Mr Potts from participating in public forum.
Accordingly, OLG has written to the Council asking it to review the ban in light of this.”
Subsequently, Council confirmed to me that it had received OLG correspondence, was reviewing the ban and would inform Mr Potts with its decision.
I asked council if councillors would be involved in the review discussions and/or the decision.
In an email dated 28 June,2018 council stated,
“The outcome of the review will be discussed with councillors at a briefing.”
Mr Potts has informed me that in an email dated 27th June, council advised him that he is welcome to attend council meetings but cannot present at public forum.
If this is the ‘review’ decision, then council has ignored OLG advice to review the ban on Mr Potts from presenting at public forum!
Allowing Mr Potts to “attend council meetings” is not a reviewable decision – it is a given!
Councillors, my question to you is:
Has council discussed with you the review, or the outcome of the review on the banning of Mr Potts from PUBLIC FORUM?
Deua River Valley
Below are the relevant sections of the Code that were provided to the councillors for their convenience.
Section 5.10 (15) and (16) state:
(15) “....... the person engaging in such behaviour(disorder) will be ruled out of order by the Chairperson and may be expelled from the meeting.”
(16) “If a presenter is asked to withdraw and/or apologise for comments or behaviour and refuses to do so, the Chairperson may expel them from the meeting, and the presenter will not be able to address Council until an apology has been made. For a presenter to be allowed to present again they must first apologise at a Council meeting, however will not be able to present at that same meeting.”
It is evident from the minutes of the June ‘13 meeting that:
* Mr Potts was not ruled ‘out of order’ by the Chair, nor was he ‘expelled from the meeting.’
* Mr Potts was not asked to ‘withdraw and/or apologise’ for his comments or behaviour at the meeting in 2013, therefore he was not(and could not be) expelled by the Chair for not doing so.