Former City of Belmont councillor hits out at use of Councillor’s Lounge


Former City of Belmont councillor Paul Hitt has called for informal meetings at the Councillor’s Lounge to be stopped.
Former City of Belmont councillor Paul Hitt has called for informal meetings at the Councillor’s Lounge to be stopped.

FORMER City of Belmont councillor Paul Hitt has spoken out against “purple circle” meetings taking place at the council building.

Mr Hitt, who was a councillor for 12 years until last October, said the meetings had been taking place in the Councillor’s Lounge regularly on Fridays for about 20 years.

The lounge is a place where councillors can meet to discuss business of the council.

“It shouldn’t be going on, these discussions should be taking place in front of all councillors,” Mr Hitt.

“There are ratepayers pinching pennies and they are using their money on drinks and nibbles.

“It’s a purple circle that is leaving some councillors at a disadvantage.

“They used to be piss-ups but now they’ve changed a bit but there is still a bar open for the councillors.”

Mr Hitt said councillors would talk about council issues and elections during the meetings.

“I used to go along but in my last three years as a councillor I realised it was wrong,” he said.

“I think these things should be discussed in front of officers.”

City of Belmont chief executive John Christie said the lounge was a resource available to all elected members.

“It is where agendas and other information may be collected and returned,” he said.

“No formal meetings of the council are conducted in this location.

“However, it is reasonable to expect that councillors will by chance cross paths, or in fact arrange to meet to discuss any matter they may deem appropriate to the business of the council.

“This is no different to any councillor picking up the telephone to ring another councillor or meet for coffee to discuss council business.”

Mr Christie said there was no embargo on councillors discussing matters between each other and they had a responsibility to make sure they were informed within the parameters of legislated requirements and the Code of Conduct.

“The Council Chamber is the only location where council makes decisions,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Local Government Minister David Templeman said the issue was not a matter for him.

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