Unannounced urgency motion embarrasses Mayor

Standing room only in the public gallery of the Gosford ChamberStanding room only in the public gallery of the Gosford Chamber. Archive image 2016

Independent Councillor for Budgewoi, Clr Greg Best, wants his fellow Councillors and Mayor Jane Smith to attend a workshop entitled, Chairing and Effective Meeting procedures.

When Council met on June 12, Clr Best was to move a motion that also called for Central Coast Council to make an apology to members of the public who had to stand and sit on the floor at a Council meeting held in the Gosford Chamber on May 14. Hundreds of members of the public attended the meeting, many for the debate about a Wamberal DA, and others for a motion about emergency dredging of the Brisbane Water Channel.

The latter was an urgency motion that Mayor Jane Smith said she had not been made aware of prior to the commencement of the meeting. “Council notes that the adjournment of the Ordinary Meeting held on May 14 caused significant inconvenience to the community that attended,” Clr Best’s motion to be debated during the June 12 ordinary Council meeting, said. He called for the Mayor and Councillors to “apologise to the hundreds of residents and ratepayers who attended this meeting, including many senior citizens, who were required to sit on the Chamber floor for more than two hours, before the business that they attended to see was reached by Council”.

Clr Best’s motion requested the Acting CEO to “provide a report to Council on the facilities provided for meetings of the Council, with the report to address public safety and identify opportunities for better managing large attendances at those meetings (including opportunities for spill out rooms where the proceedings are broadcast to). “That Council note that meetings have regularly ended around midnight and that weekly meetings may be imminent, and so that Council respectfully request the Acting CEO arrange for an opportunity for the Mayor and Councillors to attend a workshop titled ‘Chairing and Effective Meeting Procedures’, hosted by Local Government NSW.”The motion also called for Council to thank the Acting Executive Manager, Governance, and her Councillor Support Team, for their efforts on the night to manage what Clr Best referred to as “this most difficult and unfortunate situation”.

The Clr Best “apology motion” relates to an urgency motion put during the May 14 meeting regarding the dredging of the Brisbane Water Channel at Ettalong. Several other Councillors, including Mayor Jane Smith, said the reason why the item was not placed earlier on the agenda was because the Councillors involved in introducing the urgency motion did not mention it to the Mayor prior to the start of the meeting. As a result, Mayor Smith prioritised the agenda items for which there were public speakers. She said if she had known of the existence of the urgency motion, it could have been debated earlier and any inconvenience to members of the public avoided. Wyong Ward Labor Councillor, Kyle MacGregor, said Clr Best had not attended the briefing prior to the May 14 meeting, nor the agenda review committee meeting. “At dinner before the meeting, Clr Best said he hadn’t written an urgency motion and had no knowledge of any motion. “Then during the meeting, Clr Best stood to say his colleague had an urgency motion which Clr Gale Collins then moved,” Clr MacGregor said. Members of the public and media were given printed copies of the urgency motion before the start of the meeting, with Clr Best’s name at the bottom.

Source: Agenda item 4.2, Jun 12 Central Coast Council ordinary meeting Interview, May 15 Jane Smith, Central Coast Council Interview, May 18 Kyle MacGregor, Central Coast Council Jackie Pearson, journalist