City of Subiaco undecided on future of council wards and representation

Subiaco mayor Penny Taylor.
Subiaco mayor Penny Taylor.

CITY of Subiaco has failed to make a decision regarding the future structure of council wards and representation.

Councillors voted against the officer’s recommendation at a council meeting on Tuesday to retain four wards and reduce councillors from 11 to eight, but did not agree on an alternative motion.

Subiaco resident Narissa Perks told council she was disappointed in the recommendation.

“I’m taking this opportunity to express my concern and disappointment in the council’s conduct in relation to the recent Ward and Representation Review,” she said.

“The proposal to vote in favour of a resolution is contrary to the overwhelming preference of submissions received from respondents to have a three ward council with 12 councillors.”

During public consultation on the City’s ward and representation discussion paper, 328 submissions were received with most people supporting an option with three wards and 12 councillors plus the mayor.

The second most popular option was no wards while having two wards was the least favoured option.

The officer recommendation that was rejected on Tuesday was the third most popular option during public comment.

Councillor Jodi Mansfield said she believed the officer recommendation provided a good representation of councillor and elector ratio levels.

“It’s what people wanted and in 2016 we asked them what they wanted and 83 per cent wanted (it) reduced to eight,” she said.

“I suggest we listen to community feedback and make a decision based on the feedback,” Cr David McMullen said.

Cr McMullen voted against the officer recommendation so he could move his alternative motion of a three ward structure and increase the number of councillors to 12 but it was eventually lost.

The vote was split evenly which, in normal circumstances, would trigger Mayor Penny Taylor to activate her casting vote.

However, an absolute majority of council was required to pass the motion, so the casting vote was invalid.

Cr Murray Rowe suggested a second alternative motion to approve a two ward structure and reduce the number of councillors to 10, as it would receive a “tick” from the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB).

“Once you submit yourself to the Local Government Advisory Board, you’re exposed to their outcome,” he said.

“You submit one option and if they don’t like it, they take it up for you or get the minister to.

“Two wards looks to the future and doesn’t need much altering and 10 councillors, plus mayor, would get a tick from LGAB.”

However, Cr Julie Matheson requested council proceed to the next agenda item and not consider Rowe’s motion.

“The alternative motion hasn’t reached before noon on the day of our council meeting, so Cr Rowe hasn’t put an alternative motion on the agenda,” she said.

“I had to give seven days notice of leave of absence – I feel like I’m being treated unfairly in this motion.”

Cr Rowe’s motion was lost and as a result, a decision on the city’s wards and representation was left unmade.

The City is due to submit a ward and representation proposal to the LGAB by January 31, 2019.