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Mayor accepts lower standards of her councillors in chambers

The Beagle Editor, It appears that the Council will now allow official meetings to be run at a basest of levels. Can we come to expect the gavel to fall and for the Chair to advise a dissenting Councillor to "Get your hand off it"? The comment is widely understood by the community for the act of having one's hand on one's genitals. For a male Councillor to have said it whilst sitting next to a woman (the general manager) is even more disrespectful. At the conclusion of the meeting, Clr Brown made a distasteful and disrespectful remark about Clr Mayne insinuating he had ‘small hands, deep pockets’ implying he was ‘tight with his money’  Clr Pollock (in the Chair), obviously emboldened that his previous remark had gone unchallenged by Mayor Innes, thought it cute to add his own insult by commenting ‘Indeed’. After the disrespectful behaviour of Clrs Pollock and Brown during Council’s meeting on 23rd June 2020, I wrote to the Mayor inviting her to instruct these two Councillors to apologise publicly for  their comments made toward fellow Councillor(s) and thus bringing the Council into disrepute by breaching the Code of Meeting Practice.

The Mayor’s response was  “If you wish to lodge a formal Code of Conduct complaint regarding the comments, please do so by filling out the Code of Conduct complaint form found on our website”.   No acknowledgement that the comments made at the meeting were indeed in breach of the relevant Codes and that these two Councillors should be disciplined at the very least. The Mayor might like to remind herself of Eurobodalla Council's Code of Meeting Practice.

Mayor Innes, Councillors must not make imputations of improper motives or personal reflections and must refrain from the use of defamatory, offensive or inappropriate words in reference to any Councillors"Get your hand off it" implying a councillor is masturbating is offensive and inappropriate isn't it Madam Mayor? Mayor Innes, The Chairperson (YOU) is responsible for making sure that the Council carries out its meetings in accordance with the Code and any statutory requirements. One part of this is maintaining order at meetings. This would include requiring a Councillor to apologise for insults, personal comments, or implying improper motives with respect to another Councillor, Council employee or member of the public. If you, Madam Mayor, as the Chairperson, allow such statements as "get your hand off it" in your chamber it is little wonder that standards have dropped to such an extent that you all call each other by your first names as per the example of your Deputy when he takes the Chair Note: PART 6 – MODES OF ADDRESS (6.3) A Councillor is to be addressed as ‘Councillor [surname]’. Not Jack, Maureen, James, Phil or Lindsay. This failure, that flies in the face of Council's Practice rules, opens the doors for the public to disrespect councillors by calling them Jack or Rob or Lizzie. It also opens the door for a member of the public, during Public Forum, to vocalise "Excuse me Councillor, Can you get your hand off it?".

My response to the Mayor's invitation to "If you wish to lodge a formal Code of Conduct complaint regarding the comments, please do so by filling out the Code of Conduct complaint form found on our website” was to reject that invitation as a waste of time and to remind her that it is incumbent on the Mayor (Chair) or her substitute to ensure that Council meetings are conducted in accordance with the Code of Meeting Practice and Code of Conduct.

History has shown us that Code of Conduct complaints are pretty useless when referred to an ‘independent’ mediator who usually finds no case to answer or the subject Councillor(s)  will receive ‘counselling’ and ‘further training’ on how to conduct themselves in future.

The community expects our representatives to uphold their oath of office and to abide by the relevant Codes.

We now have just over 14 months to prepare ourselves for the next Council elections when it is hoped that honourable, respectful, committed  Councillors will be elected to take their seats on our behalf.

Coral Anderson

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