Little has changed from my previous comments regarding Council Briefing Sessions. These information sessions are often cancelled due to the lack of a quorum. (Less than five of the eleven Councillors consider the briefing sessions important enough to attend). Briefing sessions are scheduled for 3 hours (6:00 pm to 9:00 pm) one week prior to the Council meeting. Sessions often extend beyond that time, indicating their level of importance. Personally, I treat them as a valuable source of additional information that may not be readily available in reports and documentation. Questions raised at the 3 hour briefing sessions allow additional information to be presented at the following Council meeting and may prevent the deferment of Council matters awaiting further information. Deferments at Council meetings are often due to questions asked by Councillors that were absent from briefing sessions or those that were cancelled due to their lack of attendance!
Similar lack of attendance is evident in many of the Council Committees. The facts are that the Mayor and his Councillors used their balance of power to set up all committees and appoint its members to ensure a voting majority. Unfortunately most of the appointees are regular apologies for the committees they appointed themselves to, that often leads to ineffective meetings due to the lack of a quorum.
An excuse for lack of attendance is that Councillors have other commitments which limit their available time. However, all prospective Councillors and Mayors, are made fully aware of the time requirements prior to becoming a Councillor or Mayor, hence the simple answer is “don’t stand for elections to Council if you cannot afford the time”! That is one reason why the most effective Councillors are usually senior members of our community, are semi retired and can afford the necessary time. Unfortunately there are Councillors elected only to ensure their party has the balance of power, they rarely contribute to Council but readily accept the $22,240 annual Councillor allowance!
Clr Peter Harle