Council ‘chaos’ denied
CITY of Swan chief executive Mike Foley is standing by the council and its ability to govern amid reports of bullying and dysfunction among elected members.
Mr Foley confirmed he had received complaints of bullying but would not be drawn on whether the council was dysfunctional or divided, saying that “the City of Swan has a diverse group of councillors with a diverse range of views.”
He said complaints of bullying had been dealt with.
“Complaints have been dealt with through well-established internal and external processes, including the Local Government Standards Panel, and no action has been recommended,” he said.
Mr Foley refused to be drawn on whether the tension among councillors had impacted staff morale.
Responding to the Advocate after last week’s marathon sevenhour council meeting, he said debate did not signify dysfunction.
“Debate will always occur and the opinions of individual councillors will not always match,” he said.
“It is a key element of the decision-making process and shows that councillors are hearing and reflecting the views of their community.”
A spokeswoman from the Department of Local Government said there had been no complaints about bullying at the City of Swan.
“Neither the department nor the Minister’s office have received any complaints about bullying at the City of Swan and is not aware of any investigations that Worksafe may be undertaking,” she said.
Mr Foley said he was confident in the council’s ability to represent electors.
“We are confident that council will continue to provide good governance when making decisions,” he said.
Midland District Community Group treasurer and former Swan councillor Christina Hughes said the division between councillors had been brewing for more than a year but had recently intensified.
“I think it’s been brewing for some time but now it’s reached the point where the community have concerns and are worried about their ability to make good decisions,” she said.
“I feel standards started to slip more than a year ago but I fail to understand why it’s gotten worse apart from the contentious issue of the Midland Oval.”
Ms Hughes said she was concerned what might happen if relations deteriorated further.
She said she believed councils would not be so divided if all mayors were elected by the people, rather than by councillors.
“The State Government has its eyes on councils that can’t function effectively,” she said.
Ms Hughes said she believed councils should do away with mayors being voted in by councillors and instead be elected by the people to avoid division.
“If the mayor can be elected by direct election of the people rather than councillors, it would rescue the incumbent from forming alliances and factions within the council,” she said.
“The council needs to be able to demonstrate they can be open to all points of views and opinions and still work together.”
Local Government Minister David Templeman introduced legislation in Parliament last week to suspend individual councillors who were failing to appropriately perform their duties or functions.