City of Melville: concerns raised about the handling of public question time submissions

The City of Melville Ratepayers and Residents Association claims not all of its questions are being answered.
The City of Melville Ratepayers and Residents Association claims not all of its questions are being answered.

ISSUES about how the City Melville handles submissions for its public question time were raised at the latest council meeting.

There were claims that the City of Melville Ratepayers and Residents Association (MRRA) had asked as many as 68 questions during September’s council meeting, which were taken on notice.

When it came time to approve the minutes of September’s meeting at Tuesday’s council meeting, councillor Nicholas Pazolli raised concerns that not all of those questions were answered.

City chief executive Marten Tieleman said 24 questions had been received from the Association during last month’s council meeting and that they had all been addressed.

“All of the questions from the MRRA have been responded to and the answers provided directly to them,” he said.

“When questions are received for public question time within only a day or a few hours before a council meeting, particularly when there are many questions and some which can be complex by nature, it is challenging to be able to research and provide correct detailed responses in time for the meeting.”

“The City has an internal process that ensures that all questions received are tracked, including the dates and responses, and that the City’s record keeping requirements are fulfilled.”

Association committee member Steve Wallace said they asked 11 questions with “sub-parts”.

“Our association and members have been asking questions for many years and our combined experience proves that council does not answer questions in a full, honest and forthright manner,’ he said.

“The council has a statutory obligation to record the questions and their responses in the minutes.

“We expect the City to comply fully with this obligation.

“Their approach is often to keep the questions and their responses out of the public domain as much as they can, particularly if they are controversial.

“In the past the City has summarised questions so much that you can not even decipher what the question is.”