Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Disappointing start

AN email from the council offices earlier this week carried the disappointing news that the mayor had cancelled this month's workshop, due to have been held tomorrow (Thursday) night. Instead, he will host a social function for new and old councillors at the time originally scheduled for the workshop.

A function to farewell retiring councillors and welcome their replacements is good idea, but it could and should have been held at a time that did not require the cancellation of the monthly workshop. Ratepayers should not be expected to pay for the mayor's party either.

The monthly workshop provides an opportunity for community members to speak to assembled councillors in an informal setting and for councillors themselves to discuss a wide range of topics in a non-adversarial format.

This week's workshop - the first since the election - would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce new councillors to the inner workings of the council. My own introduction two years ago came in the form of a refusal to provide me with the minutes of previous closed council meetings until I agreed to a confidentiality agreement. I politely declined. Two years on, documents have been withheld from the three new councillors until the formalities of the certificate of election and declaration of office have been observed.

In contrast, the new Lord Mayor is already representing the Hobart City Council at formal events (see the daily Civic column in the Mercury) and Launceston aldermen have been sworn in and issued their robes of office (yes, robes!).

At tomorrow's workshop - now cancelled - new councillors could have been briefed on the council's meeting procedure and introduced to council policies. It would also have been a good opportunity to take the new councillors through this year's budget and operational plan. A briefing on Willow Court would also have been beneficial.

The next workshop will be held in the council social rooms at 6.30pm on December 1. Come along.

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