City of Rockingham Councillor calls for cancellation of annual recognition ceremony

Councillor Matt Whitfield
Councillor Matt Whitfield

CITY of Rockingham Councillor Matt Whitfield is calling for the annual recognition ceremony to be cancelled.

Cr Whitfield wrote to Mayor Barry Sammels to formally put forward his objections to the event.

Cr Sammels said it was an appropriate function of local government to host functions to recognise the achievements of the community and stakeholders.

Mayor Barry Sammels

The cost of last year’s function was $10,028 and the event focuses on recognising the contributions to the City by nominated community members and key City stakeholders.

“I agree that the City if fortunate enough to have very good links with developers, politicians and neighbouring councils, but I do not believe we need to continue this annual tradition of spending money on one evening to those and other stakeholders,” Cr Whitfield said.

“I acknowledge that the idea of councillors being able to each invite four deserving community members to attend may ‘soften’ the PR for the event, but the eligibility of invited guests states that those guests cannot have attended any of the volunteer recognition events that the City already runs, therefore limiting the attendees.”

Cr Whitfield suggested other things Council could do with the money, such as giving the funds to not for profits in the area or hosting a community barbecue where stakeholders and the whole community were invited.

“I believe that we need to continue to be mindful of our leadership responsibilities and to use the rate payers funds to the advantage of the ratepayers,” Cr Whitfield said.

“I see no tangible benefits other than those that could be achieved through the normal course of networking.”

Cr Whitfield posted his letter on his Facebook page, but Cr Sammels said Council chambers was the appropriate forum to raise and debate such matters, not social media.

Councillor Matt Whitfield’s letter to Mayor Barry Sammels

While Cr Whitfield had estimated the cost in his letter, he said a $10,000 night to “thank politicians and developers” was not  something he thought council should be concentrating on.

Cr Sammels said Council had adopted a policy to guide the hosting of such functions at the City.

“Over the past several years the City has focused on making such occasions more relevant.

“The number of civic functions held have been reduced with a more appropriate and frugal approach taken, making significant savings.

“Councillors are able to identify and nominate up to four representatives of the community that have made a special contribution to our community and who have not otherwise been recognised at any other function held earlier in the year.”

Planning has already started for next year’s function and the future of the event is for Council to decide.

Cr Sammels encouraged residents to contact their local councillors and nominate unsung members of the community worthy of special recognition.