Community ‘dimissed’ by council’s proposed deputations policy

City of Melville administration building.
City of Melville administration building.

THE City of Melville’s proposed new deputations policy has been described as an example of the council “wilfully” dismissing calls from the community to be heard.

The policy proposes to limit deputations to only items for discussion at the City’s council briefing sessions, with a maximum of one deputation for and one against any item.

City of Melville Residents and Ratepayers spokesman Mark McLerie presented to council at Tuesday’s briefing session stating the policy was at odds with the cultural change required through the State Government’s inquiry into the City.

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He pointed to the policy as being “unnecessary red tape” as deputations would only be considered through a request form and said the council’s requirement for people to have a direct interest was subjective.

City governance and legal services executive manager Louis Hitchcock said a judgement about who had a direct interest was made through a “reasonable man test.”

The policy would allow for deputations at council meetings in special circumstances, although Mr McLerie also questioned how that would be assessed.

Councillor Katy Mair queried Mr McLerie about how allowing deputations on any topic would make meetings even longer.

Councillor Duncan Macphail pointed out that while deputations were listed in the City’s Meeting Procedure Local Law, there was no such requirement through the Local Government Act.

Melville Residents Action Group chairman Gary Crawford complained at the meeting that he was denied the opportunity to present a deputation about the policy and left the chamber.

It was mentioned during the meeting that he was asked whether his organisation was an incorporated body and how it had a direct interest in the policy.

The council will make a final determination on the policy proposal at its August 20 meeting and it is slated to be in place from October 1.