The Beagle Editor, We have heard of concerns in our north that councillors might be making decisions during briefings prior to actual council meetings. For those who have concerns around this activity you might be interested in our media release: shine the light …
The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) understands that the Office of Local Government (OLG) has recently written to Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) taking issue with its behaviour in making decisions or agreeing positions on issues during private “briefing sessions” or “workshops”, ahead of formal council meetings where such decisions should be addressed.
The BVSRRA also understands that some councillors are electing not to attend such meetings with council officials because of the way they are being conducted, in particular where decisions are being made or positions agreed without residents & ratepayers being privy to them.
The BVSRRA believes that the OLG’s action was prompted by the fact that BVSC’s Code of Meeting Practice expressly precludes councillors from taking decisions on issues that should go to a formal meeting of council.
The BVSRRA also believes that the incident that gave rise to a complaint to the OLG about the behaviour of some councillors related to the private workshop meeting held prior to the ordinary meeting of council on June 27th, 2018, when council adopted the draft Revised Bega Valley Shire Delivery Program 2017 – 2021 & Operational Plan 2018-2019, placed on public exhibition on May 25th, 2018, & subject to specific amendments approved in that meeting.
During the discussion relating to the Operational Plan, Cr Tapscott responded to a remark allegedly made by Cr Bain about “a secret meeting”. Interestingly, the Mayor, Cr McBain, immediately asked Cr Bain to withdraw her remark, even though she apparently had not heard what was said & without offering any justification for doing so.
Cr Bain then proceeded to advise the meeting that she had been referring to the briefing session prior to the meeting where changes to the drafts had been agreed without the knowledge of the ratepayers.
Cr Tapscott immediately called a point of order however, before she could clarify the basis of her having done so, Cr McBain interjected & stated that “There was no secret meeting. There was a Q&A session held this morning. The meeting where the Budget is passed happened today. There was discussion on every item today.”
What is of interest here is that Cr Bain did not withdraw her accusation & nor did Cr McBain explicitly deny it.
Was Cr Bain imaging things?
The full text of this Media Release is available here …
Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association