Open community forums to take place before each council meeting

Wyong Council Chambers

The Administrator in charge of Central Coast Council while councillors are suspended, has opened his door to the public.

Dick Persson has decided to hold open community forums before each council meeting, on top of the public forums already hosted by Council.

The community forum will give ratepayers and residents open slather to talk on any topic pertinent to Council.

The public forum which will continue, only allows people to talk about items on the agenda for that particular Council meeting.

The new community forum, starting at 5.30pm, will be open to up to 10 people, who must register to speak and will be allowed three minutes.

The traditional public forum will start at 6pm, before the Ordinary Council meeting gets underway at 6.30pm.

Public forums will continue to be livestreamed but the community forums won’t be.

Persson has moved the Council meetings back to Wyong Chambers and the livestreaming of the event will continue.

The gallery is open to the public with social distancing in operation.

Only three people attended the public gallery at the November 9 meeting, one of them being suspended Deputy Mayor, Jane Smith.

The other two were regular Council meeting attendees who watch every meeting on behalf of their local communities.

Persson said he was looking forward to learning a lot more about the Central Coast and the community through the forum.

“At the open community forum, members of the community will get to bring matters before Council that aren’t on the agenda.

“It may be a burning issue that matters to them that Council should know about,” he said.

Persson added two meetings to the schedule, meaning that there will be three meetings in November, one in December and one in January.

The councillors, under the shadow of suspension, resolved at their last meeting before being suspended, that Council should conduct public Council meetings on a fortnightly basis, even during December and January.

The resolution was made in the knowledge that it could be addressed to an Administrator and Cr Chris Holstein asked if it would be binding.

The Administrator would have to respect it, a staffer said at the time.

However, the November 9 report to Council stated that staff had reviewed the meeting schedule and had decided that it was not practicable to conduct fortnightly meetings.

The two new ordinary meeting dates that have been confirmed are for Monday, November 23, and Monday, January 25, in addition to the meeting schedule adopted at the October 26 meeting.

Merilyn Vale