Plains council warns rowdy residents

Council provides a period of up to 30 minutes for ratepayers to voice their concerns and opinions at the beginning of every council meeting.

Mr Miller says this “open forum” is not a legal requirement of the council and not every council offers it.

Following an alleged outburst in the chamber at council’s March 20 meeting, which resulted in a complaint being made to council, APC’s Governance Advisory Panel investigated the matter and upheld the complaint.

The panel recommended Mr Miller issue a public notice to outline council’s requirements at open forums and throughout its monthly meetings, and sent letters from its lawyers to the individuals concerned in relation to the matter.

Mallala resident, Neil Slater, who regularly speaks at open forum, is seething after he received such a letter.

Mr Slater says he found the behaviour of the CEO and the mayor offensive on the night, and claims the pair was having a private conversation when they were meant to be listening to him.

“The CEO makes a big deal about listening to ratepayers,” he said.

“They were there to listen to what I was saying, and I wasn’t happy with their response.

“We need to make a statement to them, they work for us as ratepayers.”

In a written response addressed to council’s CEO James Miller, Mr Slater said, “I find it difficult to understand, when on both occasions at the February council open forum and the March council open forum, once I had stated my name and where I was from, as instructed by the mayor, both you and the mayor proceeded to hold a whispered conversation whilst I was at the lectern.

“I was always taught that respect needs to be earned not expected and common courtesy includes council staff listening when rate payers are speaking, as you have often indicated that you are willing to do.”

In the community notice issued by APC, Mr Miller said all people who speak at council are reminded to be respectful of the community and mindful of the values “that we share”.

“As is required of elected members and council staff, residents who speak at meetings must extend respect and courtesy no matter how passionate or concerned they might be about any particular matter,” Mr Miller said.

“A council chamber obliges all who attend to extend respect and common courtesy to fellow residents, elected members and council staff.

“Council will not tolerate behaviour or language that reflects disrespect.

“It insists on a safe and respectful environment in which to present views and air concerns.”

At time of going to print Mr Slater had not received a response from Mr Miller about his letter.

Leave a Reply