Push for more council transparency at Town of Bassendean

Renee |McLennan
Renee |McLennan

NEW Town of Bassendean councillor Renee McLennan is making her mark by campaigning for further council transparency.

At the November 24 council meeting, Cr McLennan gave notice of a motion to hold a six-month trial of opening council briefing sessions to the public from February and scheduling those sessions at least one week before council meetings.

She suggested a report of the trial be collated and a review of the report held.

Meaningful community consultation and council transparency were Cr McLennan’s election promises.

The motion comes amid the town’s investigation with Town of Vincent to implement a range of new accountability measures and a State Government proposed 10-day reporting period for gifts and travel. Cr McLennan said the lack of openness could “create a perception of secrecy and distrust”.

“The Town of Bassendean briefing sessions are closed, despite repeated requests by community members for these sessions to be opened to the public for observation,” she said.

“Consequently, community members do not have the benefit of hearing the discussion around issues of concern and may be unable to fully appreciate the factors influencing decisions.”

Cr McLennan said there was insufficient time between briefing sessions and council meetings to make informed decisions.

“Briefing sessions immediately precede council meetings so councillors have very limited time between the briefing session and decision-making and therefore may not always have adequate opportunity to become fully informed or to allow due consideration of issues,” she said.

“The scheduling arrangement also means community members have limited chance to have input or make comment on council agenda items.” A motion to open Bassendean council briefing sessions to the public was rejected in March 2014 after Mayor John Gangell used his casting vote to oppose it.

Cr Gangell said the current system worked.

The State Government’s announcement came after Perth Mayor Lisa Scaffidi was found by the Corruption and Crime Commission to have failed in her duties in not disclosing gifts and contributions to travel in her annual return.