Thursday, December 27, 2012

Extraordinary revelations: Council decisions made by a nod and a wink

Melbourne City Council endorses decisions made by the Administration on the basis of verbal presentations. No Minutes no documents and no reports.

Replies forwarded by Melbourne CEO, Kathy Alexander (See below) claim that there is no documentation of discussions or decisions made at the City of Melbourne Councillor Forums.

On November 27, the City Council considered a a number of issues presented to the Council at a Councillor Forum. Issues listed for discussion included Melbourne Street Trading policy (Horse and Carriages) and other issues of significance related to policy development and Council administration.

The City Council, just days before Christmas, implemented changes to Council's policies removing Horse and Carriage permit zones from Swanston Street outside the Town Hall. There was no consultation with stakeholders and no written reports published or made available to the elected Council or the public. Previous City Councils have rejected moves to remove horse and carriages from trading in Swanston Street, which was recognized as poviding a valued service and tourist attraction to visitors of the City.

Clearly a decision has been made and acted on. Exactly who made the decision and under what authority they had is unclear.

This is systematic of a number of serious flaws in the administration of the City Council. Most controversial decisions are made just before Christmas when there is little to no public scrutiny or media attention. The decisions are made in the back rooms by unknown persons and without any oversight of public scrutiny.

The fact that issues are being presented and decided at Councillor Forums without any documentation presented to the City Council is beyond belief. City Councillors are either complicit to the deceit or left in the dark and not properly informed. This reflects poorly not only on the recently elected City Council but more so on the administration. Issues considered by the Council at secret closed meetings are not presented or discussed at more formal meetings of Council.

Closed meetings, where public policy is discussed by Council Officials, leaves the Council wide open to allegations of corruption and denies public access to the decisions and administration of the City. There is no published record of decisions made under delegation.

The "Councillor Forums" are a means of subverting the requirements of section 89 of the Victorian Local Government Act. The suggestion  that Councillor Forum presentations are verbal and there is no minutes and no documentation allows the Council to claim that the meeting does not fall under the provisions of s89. A claim that is still under dispute as the forum by any name is still a meeting of the Council.

This matter is currently before the Victorian State Government Local Government Inspectorate whose charter is to oversee the compliance of the Local Government Act. If these meetings (Councillor Forums) are allowed to continue, unabated, with Council decisions being made behind closed doors in the absence of public scrutiny or proper documentation then public confidence and accountability of government will continue to decline.

-- Copy of reply received --

Subject: RE: Minuets and reports of Council Forum held on November 27, 2012
Received: Thursday, 27 December 2012 13:36 

Dear Mr van der Craats

I advise that in accordance with Section 80A of the Local Government Act, no Minutes are documented for Council Forum meetings which are verbal presentations.

Kind regards

Kathy Alexander | Chief Executive Officer

City of Melbourne | 90-120 Swanston Street, Melbourne, 3000 | GPO Box 1603 Melbourne, 3001
T: 03 9658 9835 | F: 03 9658 9440 | E:

We value: Integrity | Courage | Accountability | Respect | Excellence.

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