Room to improve on ‘debate-stifling’ governance rules

Heather Wellington (Picture: Rebecca Hosking) 193865_03

Surf Coast Shire councillor Heather Wellington has slammed council for making “minimal changes” to new governance rules.

“I believe the rules could have been significantly improved,” the Winchelsea ward councillor said.

“To my personal disappointment, despite thoughtful community feedback and constructive suggestions to improve them, council made minimal changes.”

Cr Wellington and Torquay ward councillor Paul Barker opposed rules restricting amendments to motions and another requiring two signatures for councillors to include motions on the meeting agenda.

The new rules now require amendments to motions to propose a “substantially similar outcome”, rather than not “directly negate the original motion” as per council’s previous governance rules.

“There seems little point in proposing amendments if they are limited to producing a ‘substantially similar’ outcome to the original motion,” Cr Wellington said.

Council received 27 submissions during the 28-day exhibition period and held a special meeting on July 13 where nine people spoke to their submission.

In Tuesday night’s meeting council made some changes to the rules including flexibility on the wording of amendments and an option for people to ask follow up questions during public question time, according to council.

Mayor Libby Stapleton said the rules aimed to strike a balance between “productivity” and “community input”.