CITY of Swan chief executive Mike Foley has stood by the council and its ability to govern amid reports of bullying and dysfunction between elected members.
Mr Foley confirmed he had received bullying complaints but wouldn’t be drawn on whether there was dysfunction or division in the council, instead saying the City had “a diverse group of councillors with a diverse range of views”.
He said complaints of bullying had been dealt with.
“Complaints have been dealt with through well-established internal and external processes including the Local Government Standards Panel and no action has been recommended,” he said.
Mr Foley refused to comment on whether the tension between councillors had impacted staff morale.
Responding to the Advocate after last week’s marathon seven-hour council meeting, he said debate did not signify dysfunction.
“Debate will always occur and the opinions of individual councillors will not always match,” he said.
“It is a key element of the decision-making process and shows that councillors are hearing and reflecting the views of their community.”
A spokeswoman from the Department of Local Government said there had been no complaints about bullying at the City of Swan.
“Neither the department, nor the Minister’s office have received any complaints about bullying at the City of Swan and is not aware of any investigations that Worksafe may be undertaking,” she said.
Mr Foley said he was confident in the councils ability to represent electors.
“We are confident that council will continue to provide good governance when making decisions for the benefit of their community,” he said
Midland District Community Group treasurer and former Swan councillor Christina Hughes said the division between councillors had been brewing for more than a year but had recently intensified.
“I think it’s been brewing for some time but now it’s reached the point where the community have concerns and are worried about their ability to make good decisions,” she said.
“I feel standards started to slip more than a year ago but I fathom to understand why its gotten worse apart from the contentious issue of the Midland Oval.”
Ms Hughes said she was concerned what might happen if relations deteriorated further.
She said she believed councils would not be so divided if all mayors were elected by the people, rather than councillors.
“If the mayor can be elected by direct election of the people rather than councillors it would rescue the incumbent from forming alliances and factions within the council,” she said.
“The council needs to be able to demonstrate they can be open to all points of views and opinions and still work together.”
Local Government Minister David Templeman introduced legislation in Parliament last week to suspend individual councillors who were failing to appropriately perform duties or functions.