Swan residents want later meetings, council disagrees

CITY of Swan ran two surveys regarding preferred council meeting times and 80 per cent of respondents said they were more likely to attend if meetings were held later.

But only about 80 people responded across both surveys, which a report to council indicated may not be a representative sample of the 130,000 people in the local government area.

One survey had no support for keeping meetings at 5.30pm, while the other survey showed only 4 per cent of respondents supported the current meeting time.

About 60 per cent of people surveyed preferred a 6.30pm starting time.

The report presented to council recommended no change because “the majority of Swan residents and ratepayers will attend council meetings only once or occasionally

“Therefore requiring them to make arrangements to attend at an earlier time is not considered onerous,” the report stated.

Cr Adam Kovalevs proposed a motion to allow council meetings to start at 6.30pm so they were more accessible to the public.

He said obstacles needed to be removed if council wanted to better engage with the community.

“We should be making it as easy as possible… A 5.30pm start is prohibitive to this,” he said.

“The survey sample may have been small but I believe it is representative of the wider community’s views.”

Arguments against Cr Kovalevs’ motion were varied.

Cr Maria Haynes said people could pick up the phone if they wanted to engage while deputy Mayor David Lucas said if the issue was so important, the gallery would be packed (there were four people left at the end of the meeting).

Cr Kevin Bailey said meetings finishing later meant councillors would face dangers on the road by driving tired.

Cr Mark Elliott said a change could disenfranchise residents who attend earlier and want to go home to leave early to see their family.