City of Swan retains its meeting times

Cr Ian Johnson, photographed last year during his campaign to save Guildford’s historic bus shelters. He voted against 6.30pm council meeting times despite his pre-election pledge.
Cr Ian Johnson, photographed last year during his campaign to save Guildford’s historic bus shelters. He voted against 6.30pm council meeting times despite his pre-election pledge.

THE decision on later City of Swan council meeting times was supposed to be a symbol of change in a bid to appear more accessible and transparent to ratepayers.

At least that is what new Ballajura ward councillor Adam Kovalevs suggested last Wednesday when forwarding his motion for meetings to start at 6.30pm rather than 5.30pm.

But despite the overwhelming public support for later council meetings, councillors voted against the motion and kept its meetings at 5.30pm.

The debate on the topic was where things got a little weird.

Rewind to May last year when a special electors’ meeting was held after a City attempt to chop down mature, public trees in Claymore Close, Guildford.

Swan faced a backlash as many residents of Guildford demanded to know how such a decision could be made without public consultation.

One of those was new Midland-Guildford ward councillor Ian Johnson, who at that point was just a resident who attended many meetings and asked a lot of questions.

Cr Johnson told the special meeting no community consultation to remove the trees had occurred and consent should not be taken just because no one commented.

He also said the timing of meetings meant it was difficult for community members to attend and put forward a motion for future meetings to start at 6.30pm. In his election campaign, Cr Johnson also told Transition Town Guildford that later meeting times would be the first thing he would raise with other councillors if elected.

“Meetings need to start at 7pm to accommodate councillors who work in Perth, and just as importantly, City of Swan residents who work in Perth who wish to attend council meetings,” he said in September.

Fast forward to the debate last Wednesday night.

As expected, Cr Johnson seconded Cr Kovalevs’ motion for later meeting times, including an amendment from Cr Daniel Parisiliti to trial the move for six months. But he then surprisingly proceeded to argue and vote against the motion, which only Cr Kovalevs and Cr Parisiliti supported in the final vote.

In the process, he also claimed his barbed questions to council as a resident were “for his own entertainment”.

Cr Johnson floated an alternative motion to start meetings at 5.45pm because it aligned with the train he took from his work in Perth to council meetings.

This motion was lost, but was slightly more popular with four votes, including Cr David Färdig who said it would also make his commute to meetings from Osborne Park easier.