‘Stop it’ – Mayor warns against ‘disruptive’ behaviour

The conduct of some councillors and members of the public gallery at council meetings has been described as “disrespectful” and “disruptive” by Wakefield Regional Council mayor, James Maitland.
The message comes after another fiery council meeting at Wakefield Regional Council (WRC) last Wednesday night, where members of the public and some councillors allegedly acted “inappropriately”  .
At one point during last week’s council meeting, the first meeting of the new council, Port Wakefield resident, Richard Pain, an unsuccessful mayoral candidate at the recent council election, stormed out after tempers flared in the chamber.
Outbursts from the public gallery continued throughout the meeting, forcing Mayor Maitland to call order, threatening to require certain people to leave.
“I hope it never has to come to that point; when we do need to get people to actually leave,” mayor Maitland said this week.
“Respect needs to be put back into the system.
“This behaviour is distruptive to councillors and staff, and is unnecessary.
“Other attendees in the public gallery with general interest in the meeting are also denied opportunity to listen without such disruption.”
Members of the public are able to have their say during public question time at WRC. Not all councils have this session available to gallery members, and instead only provide the standard formal deputation method.
WRC chief executive officer, Phil Barry, said a person in the gallery had since informed him they had struggled to effectively hear meeting deliberations due to outbursts and interruptions from certain gallery members last Wednesday.
Mr Barry said the legal framework for the conduct of councillors – and members in the public gallery – during a council or committee meeting was important.
Regulation 29 of the Local Government Act “Procedure at Meeting Regulations” says: “A member of the public who is present at a meeting of a council or council committee must not behave in a disorderly manner or cause an interruption.”
The maximum court penalty if a member of the public breaches this regulation is $500.
Mayor Maitland said he would reinforce the consequences of unnecessary outbursts from both members of the gallery and councillors before the next council meeting, on December 15.

1 comments

Sounds Fair. I may agree with some points from the Port Wakefield area but I don’t agree with disrupting the council meetings. If we’re not careful we may lose another avenue of communication with council.

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