In the wake of the decision last week to further constrain Public Forum sessions removing them from being video recorded, webcast or archived Councillors were also recommended to remove the Public Access sessions that enable members of the public to address their councillors on non-agenda items. While the General Manger, Catherine Dale was recommending total removal of these sessions saying Councillors had phones and email addresses if the public wished to contact them it was clear that following such a recommendation n the same day as their determination around Public Forum would be political suicide. So instead Councillors announced, much to the delight of Councillors McGinlay, Mayne and Constable who held fears for its removal that Eurobodalla Council will hold a public access session once per month, prior to the commencement of briefing sessions, for member of the public to raise any Council related issues with Councillors, that have not been previously determined by Council. As a bonus Councillor Constable managed to ably see the amount f time per speaker extended to seven minutes. The Dates for Public Access sessions adopted are: 23 July 2019 20 August 2019 17 September 2019 29 October 2019 19 November 2019 3 December 2019 The Public Access sessions will commence at 9.15am. To speak at a public access the Mayor set in place a requirement that a person must first make an application to the Council (44741000) no later than 12.00noon of the business day prior to the public access session, and must identify the issue they wish to raise with Councillors. A new imposition however handed down by the Mayor is that approved speakers at the public access are to provide a written copy of their address to the Council by 12.00noon the business day prior to the session. This requirement was argued adeptly by both Councillors McGinlay and Mayne however in the end the ever present and dominant voting block of won the debate saying that the submission gave Councillors and staff more time to research the issue and enabled the written presentation to be placed on Council’s website. It was argued that there are many in the community who might not be as gifted at writing and would prefer to come in and “speak off the cuff” from bare prompt notes An example might be a member of the community in regards to dog barking noise complaint: - Say gidday - name, address - tell them about the dog noise - tell them about the rangers - tell them what the neighbour said - tell them about the letter that Council wrote - ask for help It is not known if the above will be accepted as a “written copy of their address”. No doubt that will be tested. One hour will be allocated to public access each month subject and there are more speakers register than time permits, Council said that they could resolve to extend the Public Access session for 15 minutes only. They also agreed that any speakers who have not presented due to time constraints, will be scheduled first on the list for the next available Public Access session.
Eurobodalla Shire Council Chambers at Moruya. Photo: integrateav.com.au
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