Councillors call for police backup

Councillors call for police backup

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Source - Depositphotos.

Police were called to the Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire ordinary council meeting this week following a stand off between a ratepayer and shire councillors.

The disruption began when president John Erren attempted to read the monthly president’s report but was repeatedly interrupted by a resident who was shouting at him.

She accused the council of refusing to allow residents the right to express what they wanted at council meetings.

Mr Erren warned the resident she was in breach of standing orders, which ban members of the public from creating a disturbance at a meeting by interrupting or interfering with the proceedings.

When the resident refused to stop speaking Mr Erren closed the meeting for five minutes and acting chief executive Gary Clark told the woman she would need to leave or the police would be called and she could be charged with trespassing.

He warned her a breach of the standing orders could also result in a $1000 fine.

When the meeting resumed the resident continue to yell at Mr Erren.

Police were called but the resident left the meeting before they arrived.

The incident occurred on the same night the shire instituted a public attendance register in a bid to reduce disruptive behaviour by people in the public gallery.

Prior to the meeting, members of the public and media were asked to sign the register to signify they agreed to comply with the shire’s standing orders regarding disruptive behaviour.

They were also warned failure to comply with the orders would result in a direction to leave the meeting.

Staff would not say what the consequences for not signing the register were and it was not clear how many residents complied with the request to sign.

The move follows a series of changes to council meetings, which included requiring residents to submit statements and questions in writing to the shire by 2pm the day of the meeting.

Council meetings were also recently reduced from fortnightly to monthly.