Mayor’s bullying claims

Mayor’s bullying claims

City of Gosnells Mayor Glenn Dewhurst. Photograph – Richard Polden.

City of Gosnells mayor Glenn Dewhurst has once again taken to social media to air his frustrations – this time accusing his fellow councillors and others within the City of Gosnells of bullying.

While Tuesday morning’s post did not mention names, the mayor stated that he ‘has witnessed councillors, staff and directors bully each other.’

Mayor Dewhurst also took aim at those who he accused of trying to restrict access for residents to meet with him and accused another councillor of attempting to reduce his sitting allowances for a second time.

“I have seen councillors bully each other, staff and even directors,” the post read.

“It is not all councillors who bully, but those who refuse to speak up and who allow it to occur are “Enablers” of such behaviour, including myself who has witnessed this for years whilst serving on council and not spoken up, for that I am sorry to the staff, councillors and directors, whilst I remained silent.”

In the post Mayor Dewhurst also took aim at bullying within the community.

“Enough is enough, from now on I will not tolerate bullies at council or anywhere else in our community,” the post stated.

“I will not ask who is with me, as people thrive on being faceless keyboard Bullies (sic).”

In response, the city’s chief executive, Ian Cowie, said in a statement that he was not aware of any staff having raised concerns about bullying by councillors.

“Debate among local government councillors can be robust, as it often is between members of parliament at both state and federal levels,” Mr Cowie said.

“Whether or not robust debate and differing opinions constitute bullying is very subjective and will depend on the circumstances and manner in which it occurs.”

However mayor Dewhurst said he has taken up the issue of bullying and bad behaviour by councillors with the chief executive a number of times.

“I have been on council for seven or eight years now and I have seen the way councillors have spoken to directors, staff and each other and you wouldn’t put up with it in any business whatsoever,” he said.

“I have raised this with the CEO a number of times and he said we aren’t employees, we are like a contractor but the council cannot take action against councillors, as you would an employee.

“I am saying enough is enough.

“We need to have a fair discussion about local governments in the future because we are really hurting out there.

“Members of the public have told me they won’t go back to council meetings after experiencing the bullying and viciousness and harassment.

“A lot of councillors have contacted and said they know what I am saying and they are with me.

“This is about personalities and different visions, but when it comes down to the operational side of the city about roads, rates and rubbish, some very good robust discussions are held and there are some councillors making good decisions.”

In relation to the issue of elected members posting to social media, City of Gosnells chief executive Ian Cowie said the city currently does not have a policy in relation to social media use for elected members but one has been recently drafted and discussed with councillors and will be presented to council in the near future.

Mr Cowie further stated that councillors are able to post personal opinions on social media provided they are ‘not necessarily those of council.’

“That said, it is expected that elected members will avoid publicly criticising council or their fellow councillors,” Mr Cowie said.

Mr Cowie also said there is currently no motion before council to reduce the allowance paid to the mayor.