Council to streamline meetings for greater efficiencies

Published: 22 Mar 2023

Council is switching to monthly council meetings as part of a strategic focus on becoming more streamlined and efficient.

Other changes are also being made to public participation and councillors’ late business as part of the new meeting format.

Motions were carried at an ordinary meeting today to change the meeting schedule and amend Standing Orders for council meetings.

The changes, which will take effect from next month, were adopted following consultation between CEO Scott Owen, Mayor Greg Williamson, and the elected members.

Mayor Williamson said the change from two meetings a month to one would be more efficient in terms of the use of councillors’ and senior council staff time.

“Councillors meet every Wednesday, whether it be for a council meeting, briefings or Council in Community Days,’’ he said.

“The new monthly format will still allow council to make the decisions it needs to in a timely manner and will provide an extra Wednesday for councillor business.

“We can use that day for further briefings or more community interactions.”

Council also has the ability to call special meetings in addition to the once-a-month cycle if needed for urgent matters

The change to public participation will incorporate deputations to council.

The main amendment is any person or group wishing to attend and address council, or provide a deputation at a local government meeting, must now make a written request at least seven days prior.

The written request to the CEO must include the matter to be raised by the presentation or deputation, their name and address and contact details.

The CEO and the meeting chair, the Mayor, will then decide whether to add the public participation item to the agenda, or to advise the applicant of more appropriate channels.

Mayor Williamson said this change was in line with deadlines for preparation of the agenda.

“Council officers and staff must have reports and agenda items ready a week prior to the meeting, so it has been deemed public participation items should be treated the same way,’’ he said.

“This will ensure matters of public participation are local government specific and appropriate channels within council have already been used in trying to further the matter.”

There will be a maximum of three speakers per matter and the time of three minutes per speaker, currently in place, would remain.

Previously, speakers could turn up on the day and put their name on the list to speak.

“What that means is sometimes speakers are talking about matters not related to local government that council has no involvement in,’’ Mayor Williamson said.

“This change will ensure public participation is more efficient and concentrated on matters council can influence,’’ he said. 

“That will include any items on the council agenda that day or other council-related matters.”

There will also be stricter rules around late business items raised by councillors.

Under the revised Standing Orders, a councillor may seek to propose a motion as late business at a meeting.

In doing so, they must explain the nature of the late business and urgency and answer questions about the matter, after which the chair will seek a resolution to allow the matter to proceed.

Where possible, a councillor must provide a copy of the proposed motion under late business to all other councillors as soon as practical before the meeting.

The CEO, Mr Owen, said he believed the meeting changes, developed in consultation with the elected members, were positive.

“They are in line with council’s focus on becoming more agile and efficient,’’ he said.

“There will also be changes to the monthly reporting at the council meeting to have more of a forward-looking and strategic focus, which will assist with preparing the region for the future.”