Administrator issues Draft Code of Meeting Practice

Former Administrator Dick Persson

Central Coast Council has reduced the amount of time its agenda paper will be available to the public for scrutiny before a Council meeting.

This means residents will have only three days’ notice of important decisions to be made at meetings.

At the moment, the Council makes the agenda papers public on a Friday afternoon, six business days before the meeting which traditionally had been on the following Monday week.

Meetings have recently been changed to Tuesdays.

The option to reduce the timing to three days was part of a Draft Code of Meeting Practice which Administrator, Dick Persson, adopted at the March 9 meeting.

The code will go out on public exhibition for comment but the change to the agenda timing is to be implemented immediately.

“It is recommended that the above change be implemented as soon as administratively practicable as an interim arrangement,” staff said in the report tabled at the meeting.

“This will allow feedback from this process to be considered as part of the consideration of submissions.”

The change in the code means that Council will also keep its practice of registration of attendees even after any Public Health Order has been lifted.

“A method introduced during the restrictions under the Public Health Order has been the registration of attendees at the meetings,” the report to council explained.

“This was also a recommendation of the security audit undertaken in response to security concerns.

“It is proposed that this system would continue after the lifting of any Public Health Order.

“This system allows for the management of attendee numbers while still ensuring the public is able to attend Council meetings.”

Other changes to the meeting code include limiting councillors to only one notice of motion per meeting, submitted seven days in advance, and for motions to include budgets and source of funding for anything that needs implementation.

If the motion does not include the information, the motion will be deferred until the CEO can write a report on applicable costs.

Questions on notice will be limited to one question only per meeting and not one question with multiple parts to it.

The new code includes a line that “Councillors are to make efforts to attend pre-meeting briefings”.

Persson said he would encourage people to look at the attendance records of the suspended councillors.

The new code mentions that meetings will be webcast but can be edited or modified prior to broadcasting and should stay on the Council website for 12 months minimum.

The code also said the Chair has precedence and councillors must be silent if the chair speaks.

It outlines the code of conduct expected at meetings, including calling people by their honorifics.

All NSW councils are required to adopt a Code of Meeting Practice that incorporates the mandatory provisions of the new Model Meeting Code prescribed by State Regulation.

Merilyn Vale