March 11 - 17, 2018: Issue 351
Draft Code of Meeting Practice now on exhibition for feedback - Amendment to Retain Public Forum by Councillor De Luca, seconded by Councillor Ferguson, means Vox populi to persist at present
At the council Meeting held on February 27th ITEM 8.3 'NORTHERN BEACHES COUNCIL DRAFT CODE OF MEETING PRACTICE: PUBLIC EXHIBITION OF DRAFT CODE' the then current draft Meeting Code proposed abolishing the Public Forum but would still include the Public Address.
It was proposed that, if the draft Code of Meeting Practice was adopted, the Public Forum would continue as a separate community meeting held five times a year in venues rotating across the region and not be part of the council meetings.
Another item in the draft Meeting Code stated that Councillors wishing to put a Notice of Motion must personally identify a funding source.
Councillor De Luca moved two Amendments to the draft Meeting Code, seconded by Councillor Kylie Ferguson;
C. Council change Clause 4.14 so it accords with the wording of the Office of Local Government and reads:
A notice of motion for the expenditure of funds on works and/or services other than those already provided for in the council’s current adopted operational plan must identify the source of funding for the expenditure that is the subject of the notice of motion. If the notice of motion does not identify a funding source, the general manager must either:
a. prepare a report on the availability of funds for implementing the motion if adopted, or
b. by written notice sent to all councillors with the business papers for the meeting for which the notice of motion has been submitted, defer consideration of the matter by the council to such a date specified in the notice, pending the preparation of such a report.
D. Council add as Clause 5.19, Public Forum:
a. a Public forum will be conducted at each Ordinary Council Meeting for a period of 30 minutes (maximum of 10 speakers at 3 minutes each)
b. Public Forum should not be used to raise routine questions, matters or complaints. Such matters should be forwarded in writing to Council where they will be responded to by appropriate Council offices
c. any question to Council must be submitted with the request to address Council and will be reviewed by staff prior to the meeting. If the question is deemed to be a routine matter it will be processed as a customer request and a response will be provided in accordance with customer service standards
d. if a question cannot be answered at the meeting a written response will be provided in accordance with customer service standards.
Councillor De Luca stated, regarding the first amendment that this had been used in the past to deliberately stop minority councillors from putting Notices of Motion.
"Councillors were unable often to get information as to funding sources or were told that the funding sources they they had identified were inappropriate, and that therefore their Notices of Motion could not go forward. "
"The Office of Local government has recognised that there has been, in some councils, that politics prevails even among council staff, in resisting certain elected representatives desires to move Notices of Motion. There should never be any fettering of an elected representatives ability to raise a Notice of Motion. That is why the Office of Local Government have recommended that very clause that I seek to include and put to the public."
In speaking on the second amendment, to not abolish the Public Forum, Cr. De Luca said;
“We have heard from our community tonight that they do not want the Public Forum as proposed (in the then current draft)..’
We should not be restricting our community’s right to address us through any avenue available
We are only sitting a mere 10 times a year. It is not an unfair or unreasonable expectation by our community for them to expect us to listen to them every month.
I commend the Amendment Motion to you and ask you to do what our community wants not what we, as elected representatives, feel is more efficient, to shorten council meetings.
The perception is, (by the community) is that we are gagging the community for our own benefit."
Cr. Kylie Ferguson also spoke, as seconder, in support of the Motion, stating she had once used such a forum to have her say when no other avenue was open to her.
“It’s important that the community gets to have their say. I once wrote to councillors and to be honest, got no reply. My frustatrtion went through the roof and I thought; what can I do, where can I get to have my say’ and took my three minutes." Cr. Ferguson stated
"I think also, now that we’re online, we’re reaching a greater demographic. We have our loyal favourites that come here every month but we need to get to everyone. This is a great platform now that we have meetings (broadcast online) where people can see ‘hey, they have got the same issue as me’... . ‘they’re going through the same thing’.”
When I spoke and then turned around and everyone cheered me it made me realise ‘I’m not on my own’
“I think the Public Forum is important – it’s 30 minutes of each meeting – I’d extend the meeting by 30 minutes if it meant that everybody got to have their say. It’s so important.
They can listen to us until the cows come home – but it’s them that we really need to know (and hear) – what’s at the base roots, what’s going on, what’s affecting them, what’s making them miserable and what do they need to be championed on.
We’re here to listen and I thank all those (attending) for coming and for bringing to us these issues. We may not know all that is going on and I thank you for bringing these (matters) to us.” Cr. Ferguson said in closing.
“I see the five public forums outside of council meetings as an addition to those now available.” Councillor De Luca further stated.
"I have had a member of the Pittwater community ask that council meetings be held in the former area - I see that those public forums could be in addition to those held outside council, not replace public forums, and there is nothing in my Motion that prevents those five public forums.
" We’ve seen tonight, in the Business paper, the structure of our committees. That document shows that Precinct committees have been abolished,
Then at previous council meetings we’ve seen that section 355 management committees for community centres, parks and other advisory committees have been abolished.
This council, in its short time, has done more to abolish community consultation mechanisms than any other council in the history of the northern beaches.
So, therefore, we should not be acting to abolish further avenues for our community to actually have their say by way of public forum.
It is not an unfair or unreasonable expectation of our community to expect us to listen to them every month.
“Restricting Councillors and preventing them from submitting Notices of Motion unless they personally investigate and provide a funding source has been used in the past in some councils to restrict the Motions of independent councillors being submitted. This undermines democracy and grass roots participation. I hope people will have their say by making a submission."
The Amendment Motion put, was carried.
FOR: Crs Amon, Daley, De Luca, Ferguson, Grattan, Harrison, McTaggart, Sprott, Walton, Warren and White
AGAINST: Crs Bingham, Heins, Philpott and Regan
The other item of interest to Pittwater residents who have stated to this news service they have been missing their own elected representatives at local events and wondering why they were absent when every councillor available turned up to every event in Pittwater prior to being sacked by the state government.
As tabled in the February 27th Meeting was the Notice of Motion put by Councillor Kylie Ferguson -11.12; Transparent Governance Post Amalgamation, specifically;
B. That Council requests the CEO and Mayor:
a. To ensure that a Register of Invitations is maintained by Council and the Mayor’s Office, detailing any invitation addressed to the Mayor and Councillors and the register is sent to all Councillors on a weekly basis alerting of upcoming events and should a representative to that event be required, the name of the Councillor representing the Mayor and or Council.
b. That representation on behalf the Mayor and/or Council be treated openly and equally and there be balanced representation of Wards, Councillors and Political Parties/Independent when selecting Representatives of the Mayor and or Council at events.
The Minutes record that; as proposed by Cr. Ferguson, seconded by Cr. De Luca -
A Council acknowledges:
a. with the Amalgamation of the former Pittwater, Warringah and Manly Councils it is important to ensure transparency and good governance in all areas of administration
b. as part of good governance and transparency, it is important that Councillors are kept up to date with council events, meetings, briefings and community based events on a regular basis.
B. Council requests that the Office of the Mayor and Councillors:
a. provides a schedule that includes all council events, Council meetings, briefings, Strategic Reference Group and committee meetings and community based events. The schedule is to be provided to all Councillors on a weekly basis. The schedule should highlight invitations from community groups that are extended to all Councillors
b. where the Mayor only is invited to an event and is unable to attend, a representative will continue to be delegated to represent the Mayor and Council and these details are to be listed on the schedule
c. where representation on behalf of the Mayor and/or Council is required at council or community events, that transparency, equity and balanced representation of the five wards and political parties is taken into consideration
d. provide guidance and assistance to community groups to ensure invitations are extended to all Councillors where appropriate as intended by our community groups.
FOR: Crs Amon, Daley, De Luca, Ferguson, Grattan, McTaggart, Sprott, Walton, Warren and White
AGAINST: Crs Bingham, Harrison, Heins, Philpott and Regan
The Motion was carried.
The Draft Code of Meeting Practice is now on Exhibition for your comments and feedback. Those who wish to continue to have Their Say should probably Have a Say!
Details and links below.
Draft Code of Meeting Practice - 2018
Public Exhibition of Draft Code commences
10 March 2018
Public Exhibition of Draft Code completed
08 April 2018
Preparation of Report to Council following public exhibition
04 May 2018
Scheduled adoption of Code at Council meeting
22 May 2018
The draft Northern Beaches Council Code of Meeting Practice is based on the meeting requirements from the Local Government Act, 1993 and the Local Government (General) Regulations, 2005. This draft leaves the majority of key meeting procedures unaltered from the current Code and includes the Public Forum and Public Address.
The draft Northern Beaches Code of Meeting Practice will be available online for a public exhibition period of 28 days.
Have Your Say
Make a written submission to The CEO, Northern Beaches Council, 725 Pittwater Road, Dee Why NSW 2099, marked “Draft Northern Beaches Code of Meeting Practice”
Submissions close Sunday 8 April 2018
We have been forwarded a few of the Addresses given to Council as part of the Public Forum on this matter and another this week and include these:
Council Code of Meeting Practice
Speech to Council
On Proposal 8.3
Good Evening Everyone.
My name is Miranda Korzy. I’d like to start by letting you know – for the sake of transparency - that I’m the Secretary of the Protect Pittwater Association and Convenor of Northern Beaches Greens.
I’m here tonight to voice my objections to some of the Northern Beaches Council Draft Code of Conduct.
In particular, I’m opposed to the proposal to remove the opportunity for residents to have their say in the Public Forum, which currently opens council meetings.
The forum allows locals to bring issues of concern to them before the whole council, the public in the gallery, online viewers and media in attendance – in a way that a letter to an individual councillor or member of council staff can’t do.
It‘s a measure open to residents to publicise a concern, a brilliant idea, or even to offer congratulations and some worldly wisdom as former Warringah Councillor Connie Harris did at the first meeting of the Northern Beaches Council.
This is grassroots democracy at its best – a principle fundamental to the Greens. It’s also a great illustration of the saying that local democracy is the closest form of government to the people. In the public forum, residents can speak to their representatives directly and be guaranteed a hearing.
Providing only five or six public meetings per year for residents to voice their concerns is a poor substitute for this public forum, where they can bring up a matter as soon as it arises – rather than wait two or three months.
For Pittwater residents, this is yet another loss. The public forum was an institution open to all Pittwater residents at our council meetings. I’m not surprised that the Office of Local Government says that this code is designed to streamline councils into decision-making bodies.
However, councils should also represent the people and listen to what the people have to say.
Finally, I like many others expect the council to advocate on my behalf – and if we don’t like the code of conduct or part of it, to let the government know.
Instead, we have a situation where the council has adopted Manly’s previous code for a few months, now plans to adopt the draft plan based on the state government’s proposal for a few more months, and then change again to conform to whatever the Office of Local Government eventually comes up with.
I urge the council to tell the state government that the people of the Northern Beaches want to retain our public forums and retain them in the Code of Conduct.
Council speech Feb 2018
I noted at a recent Council meeting that Candy Bingham moved to preserve various items of the non-built form that hold a historical significance on the Northern Beaches. I understand that this initiative is entitled “Moveable Heritage” and I hereby commend it.
The subject of my very brief speech tonight, however, is “Removable Heritage”.
Winston Churchill is famously credited as once saying that ‘History is written by the Victors’.
Pittwater has many resident groups, many volunteer committees, a strong community. Reference to the current Council website indicates that around half of all registered community groups on the Northern Beaches have a direct link to the former Pittwater LGA.
The Pittwater area has a great natural environment. And we have looked after it, that’s why it’s still there. Saved by the community which in most cases had the backing of their Council.
Previously the Pittwater Council website contained links to pages that listed some of our most revered citizens, winners of awards such as Citizen of the year, volunteer of the year and Junior Citizen. Listings dating all the way back to 1992.
For later years, the listings included all candidates for each award, including a bio.
Many of the residents listed on these web pages had given generously of their time to fight for and save the things in Pittwater that we now take for granted. Currawong, Mona Vale Hospital, and the Ingleside Escarpment are good examples.
You might say that these historical Pittwater web pages served as a source of inspiration for others to follow.
However, seemingly with the press of a delete button, this important aspect of our local history has been removed from the new NB Council website. Ironically replaced by professionally produced spin videos extolling how wonderful it is to live here and enjoy the very legacies these (now forgotten) residents fought to protect.
So tonight, I ask to Council not to remove or re-write our history, but rather, to reinstate the former Pittwater web pages, which high light the efforts of the wonderful people who have helped shape and save what we all enjoy today.
Consultation Draft Of The New Model Code Of Meeting Practice For Local Councils In NSW
NSW Office of Local Government
Amendments made to the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) in August last year by the Local Government Amendment (Governance and Planning) Act 2016 provide for a model code of meeting practice to be prescribed by regulation.
The Office of Local Government (OLG) is consulting with councils and other stakeholders on the new Model Code of Meeting Practice for Local Councils in NSW (Model Meeting Code). Once this is finalised, it will replace the meeting rules currently prescribed in the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 (the Regulation).
The Model Meeting Code has two elements:
- It contains mandatory provisions (indicated in black font) that reflect the existing meetings provisions of the Act and adapt those currently contained in the Regulation. The existing meetings provisions of the Regulation have been updated and supplemented to reflect contemporary meetings practice by councils and to address ambiguities and areas of confusion in the existing provisions based on feedback from councils.
- It contains non-mandatory provisions (indicated in red font) that cover areas of meetings practice that are common to most councils but where there may be a need for some variation in practice between councils based on local circumstances. The non-mandatory provisions will also operate to set a benchmark based on what OLG sees as being best practice for the relevant area of practice.
The Model Meeting Code has been designed to achieve a range of outcomes, namely:
- promoting, as the principal object of meetings, the making of decisions by the governing bodies of councils that are in the best interests of the council and the community as a whole
- promoting more accessible, orderly, effective and efficient meetings and to provide councils with the tools to achieve these outcomes
- prescribing principles to inform the way in which meetings are conducted and to prescribe meeting rules that are consistent with these principles
- codifying areas of common practice across councils in a way that is clear, efficient, leads to better informed and more effective decision making and that is consistent with the requirements of the Act
- promoting greater consistency between councils across the state in key areas of meetings practice without losing the ability to allow some variation in practice to meet local needs or expectations
- allowing greater flexibility in the conduct of meetings to accommodate a range of potential scenarios that are not addressed by the current meeting rules
- simplifying the language currently used to make the prescribed meeting rules more accessible and easier to understand
- modernising the rules to accommodate current and emerging technologies (e.g. electronic notice, electronic voting systems and webcasting).
Links to the consultation draft of the Model Meeting Code can be found on the ‘Related Downloads’ section on this webpage.
Submissions can be made by email to email@example.com. Submissions should be labelled “Model Meeting Code Consultation” and marked to the attention of OLG’s Council Governance Team.
Submissions should be made by COB Friday 16 March 2018.
For further information, contact OLG’s Council Governance Team on (02) 4428 4100 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All submissions are a matter of public record and will be made available for public inspection upon request. Submissions may contain information that is defined as ‘personal information’ under the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998. Submissions will be handled in accordance with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act, 1998 and the requirements of the Act will be followed for the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information contained in the submissions. The Office reserves the right to withhold submissions which it considerers to be defamatory, offensive or otherwise not in the public interest to release.
Manly's former Mayor Jean Hay OAM, Cr. Kylie Ferguson and Cr. Vincent De Luca OAM - photo is from Manly Warringah Pittwater Netball Grand Final, September 2016.