Coun­cil ‘chaos’ de­nied

The Advocate (Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Lisa Thomas

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.

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