City of Melville electors meeting gets heated after former Deputy Mayor pushes for change


Gary Crawford
Gary Crawford

A ROUTINE electors’ meeting took an explosive turn when former Melville councillor Mark Reynolds successfully moved a motion demanding the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association (MRRA) open its membership to anyone living or paying rates within the City.

The move came after both Mr Reynolds, a former deputy mayor who represented the University ward from 2001-2015, and current Melville councillor Duncan Macphail were denied membership earlier this year.

At the time, both men alleged MRRA president Gary Crawford was deliberately evasive in dealing with their applications before eventually stating they had been rejected following a vote by the association’s executive committee.

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Mr Reynolds argued the MRRA demanded openness, honesty and transparency from the City of Melville but displayed none of those characteristics itself.

“A properly run organisation such as the MRRA, with an open membership arrangement, would mean the entire City would benefit,” he said.

“I’m all in favour of these sorts of organisations but they can not lack democracy and transparency.

“The reason I was given for having my membership rejected was that I was ‘not the sort of person they want’. With my record of achievement in local government, I thought that was laughable.”

Speaking against the motion, Mr Crawford said the MRRA practised inclusiveness.

“We have members who have felt completely disconnected from the City because of the conduct they have been subjected to. Our constitution says membership applications are subject to acceptance by the executive committee,” he said.

Mr Crawford then stormed out of council chambers and Bicton resident Steven Wallace attempted to move a motion of no confidence in Mayor Russell Aubrey, City of Melville executive manager of legal services Louis Hitchcock and City Governance Manager Jeff Clarke.

His motion was seconded by MRRA secretary Mark McLerie but after failing to find any support from the public gallery was withdrawn without being put to the vote.

Mr Crawford confirmed on Thursday he had no intention of changing the MRRA’s membership process.

“The feedback I have received from the general membership is that they are very happy with the work the association has been doing and that there will be no change, there is no need for change.

“We are operating according to our constitution and according to the standards as set by the Department of Commerce.”