Debate on meeting time heats up

Debate on meeting time heats up

Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale councillors decided to hold ordinary council meetings on the third Monday of every month at 7pm, except January.

What seemed like a simple decision became much more complicated, as Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale councillors debated the dates, times and schedules of all council and committee meetings for next year. 

The suggestion of “if it’s not broken, then why fix it” was thrown out there during the debate by councillor Morgan Byas, as councillor Rob Coales argued his views for the need for an earlier time slot. 

Councillors voted six votes to two to meet once a month at a start time of 7pm, which is the same as the current schedule. 

It was also decided that council does not hold a meeting in January and that council committee meetings would be scheduled for the first Monday of the month and the fourth if required, commencing at 5.30pm. 

During council discussion at the November meeting, Mr Byas started the debate by saying that he thought what they had now worked well, and things should remain the same. 

This was followed by a fiery remark from Mr Coales who said he felt embarrassed and frustrated and that if his fellow councillors couldn’t make an earlier meeting at 5.30pm once a month then they should resign and get off council. 

Mr Coales said the earlier meeting time would save money on overtime for shire staff and catering. 

Mr Byas closed the debate in what he described as “a calm manner” saying while he took on board what Mr Coales said, it was the ratepayers that required the later timeslot to enable them to have a say about how their local government operates. 

“They work hard for their families and some of them won’t be able to make a 5.30pm meeting,” he said. 

“I believe what we have got works. 

“We have established an expectation in the community that this is how we do business.” 

Former councillor and Byford resident John Kirkpatrick told The Examiner he agreed with council’s decision to keep the meeting time at a 7pm start. 

“We shouldn’t be putting obstacles in the way for people to come in and state their position,” he said. 

“You can see when something controversial comes up on the agenda, the amount of people that come to the public gallery to observe it and have their voice dramatically increases. 

Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale ordinary council meetings will be held on third Monday of every month at 7pm, except January. 

Council committee meetings will be held from 5.30pm.