PERTH council recommended the heritage listing of a 112-year-old hotel owned by Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi last night, almost two years after the matter first came to the council.
With the Lord Mayor overseas, Deputy Lord Mayor James Limnios presided.
A written question from Peter Simpson of Subiaco asked if any councillor worked for a historic architectural society, including the Art Deco Society, referring to groups commenting about the Grand Central Hotel in the media.
Mr Simpson suggested any councillor who had could not vote on the matter.
Councillor Reece Harley responded by identifying Mr Simpson as “an employed planning consultant for Lisa and Joe Scaffidi, who is clearly asking this question on their behalf”.
Cr Harley said he is a member of an organisation which did free work for the Art Deco Society helping to digitise their archive.
City of Perth chief executive Martin Mileham said an elected member would only have to vacate the chamber for a matter if they had a direct financial interest.
Cr Lily Chen took the opportunity to criticise media reports she said “predicted” her vote on the hotel listing, and to attack unnamed members of council she believed had planted the story.
Deputy Lord Mayor Limnios asked Cr Chen to explain.
Cr Chen replied: “How did they know about the gift? How did they get the picture?”
Cr Limnios advised Cr Chen to “stick to the facts of the item”.
Cr Judy McEvoy, a member of the City’s Planning Committee, said “there has been a lot of discussion in the press… this was sent back from the planning committee because of the suggestion they would like to talk further with the administration”.
Cr Harley took issue with this characterisation of events.
“Council was first presented with this item 595 days ago with a recommendation that it be included on the heritage register,” he said.
“It was deferred back to the planning committee to consult with the owners, and it has been 595 days since.
“It has undergone extensive review and (has been subject to) continual recommendation (for heritage listing). It has not been City staff, it has been councillors who have been kicking this can back down the road.”
Cr Keith Yong claimed this comment reflected adversely on a council decision and on the character of councillors.
Cr Harley responded “kicking the can down the road” meant “delaying the final decision”.
The council voted unanimously to endorse the staff recommendation that the Grand Central Hotel receive heritage listing.
At this point, Cr Harley said Cr McEvoy had been recording the debate on her phone.
Cr McEvoy dismissed the claim, adding, “he thinks I’m sending it to the Lord Mayor”.
Unauthorised recording of council meetings are not permitted.
Cr Harley said he was prepared to sign a statutory declaration on the matter.