Cockburn Deputy Mayor survives rowdy special meeting

Lee-Anne Smith.
Lee-Anne Smith.

ALLEGATIONS of inappropriate Facebook comments, rudeness to councillors, abuse of staff and residents and disrespect of external groups failed to convince Cockburn Council to eject Deputy Mayor Lee-Anne Smith from her roles at a rowdy special meeting attended by about 100 residents last night.

“Elected members are expected to be cordial and act with decorum,” Cr Chontelle Sands said, who brought a no-confidence motion against Cr Smith.

Cr Smith faced being suspended from her role and council committees, and having her allowance removed for six months, for breaching the council’s Code of Conduct.

Citing emails and reports mostly from this year, Cr Sands alleged Cr Smith was “rude to elected members, administration and staff when different opinions are presented”, insulted the head of the Westport Taskforce, yelled at the chief executive officer, spoke on radio about Roe 8 contrary to the council’s policy and insulted the public at a concert.

Social media posts about a Jandakot road, freeway billboards and the Taskforce had allegedly also breached the council’s code.

“I’ve got to say many of these are alleged at the present time,” Cr Smith said.

Cr Smith said Cr Sands was under investigation by the Department of Local Government for alleged breaches of the code and that legal advice, which Cr Sands said “she could not recall”, prevented her attending mediation before the special meeting.

Cr Sands said there was no proof she had been investigated by the Department of Local Government.

The Department has been contacted for comment.

Cr Smith said she was aware of the code and how easy it can be breached, and immediately provided her own example when she told chief executive Stephen Cain to be quiet when she spoke.

Cr Kevin Allen said the meeting was grandstanding, the recommendation punitive and the Department of Local Government would see it as dysfunction in the council.

After the motion failed in a 5-5 vote , Mayor Logan Howlett, said social media could not be banned for councillors, and they had to represent their communities in all public forums with opinions conforming with the Code of Conduct.