Council debate sparks outburst

Tensions were already high at the first council meeting for the year on February 23, with more than 80 people filling the gallery to speak about the Bassendean redevelopment process.

A few stayed back to hear the six councillors deal with the first items for 2016, but it was Councillor Renee McLennan’s motion to seek feedback from the community about increasing councillor numbers that caused furore.

Cr Bob Brown spoke in favour of the motion with a preference for nine councillors, which he thought was “more democratic and diverse.”

Cr Gerry Pule spoke against it. “I have served on this council when there were nine councillors and it was anything but democratic,” he said.

Cr Mike Lewis said “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Cr McLennan said she would be “extremely disappointed and appalled” if her fellow councillors would not even consider it.

“Who does it (six councillors) work for, you or the community,” she said.

When it came to the vote, it was a tie with councillors McLennan, Bridges and Brown in favour and councillors Pule and Lewis and Mayor John Gangell against. Cr Gangell cast the deciding vote against the motion.

The decision sparked fury from the gallery. “I’m disgusted with the lot of you,” Kathryn Hamilton said. “You are gone at the next election.”

Don Yates accused the mayor of not answering questions.

Opinion, page 10