Time for a quasi ‘performance report’ on council. It is now a year since Glen Eira has had a new CEO at the helm and 4 months since 5 new councillors were elected. Has anything really changed? Has there been ‘progress’ in terms of transparency and accountability? Has this council lived up to the rhetoric of ‘listening to residents’ and instituting vital change to democratic processes and protocols?

Some potential positives –

  • Several directors are gone – so there has been a major reshuffle of senior admin
  • Suspension of standing orders in order to cater for ‘community conversations’ at council meetings

The negatives –

  • No change to Local Law until 2019
  • No change to advisory committee meetings protocols
  • No intention of reviewing residential zones despite huge community outcry
  • And much, much more……..

In December last year, the Ombudsman released her report into transparency in decision making by local councils. Glen Eira was one of the councils focused upon. According to the report the basis for the selection of the 12 councils was: the number of complaints received about them; comments received via the Government’s Local Act Review, and the performance measures on ‘transparency ratings’.

We’ve uploaded the full report HERE and fully endorse the findings made. Each recommendation is something that for years and years this council has fought tooth and nail to avoid. We can see no reason why many of these recommendations cannot be instituted immediately and do not even require amending the Local Law – ie publishing the agenda at least 5 days prior to the council meeting, instead of late Friday afternoon!

Here is the media release on the recommendations –

local-government-media-release-final_page_1local-government-media-release-final_page_2We must also take some credit in leading the ombudsman to conclude that Council’s Delegated Planning Committee had been operating illegally for the past decade! That is why several council meetings ago, there was the resolution to rescind the delegation to this committee and reconstitute it! Thus here was another opportunity for council to mend its ways – to be far more open and transparent. No such luck in Glen Eira – except for the notation in the CEO’s response that the public could request minutes from this committee. Certainly news to us and why hasn’t this been widely publicised if in fact true?

pages-from-vo_report_tansparency-of-lg-decision-making_dec-2016_page_1pages-from-vo_report_tansparency-of-lg-decision-making_dec-2016_page_2

The motivation to change, to live up to the rhetoric, to ensure greater transparency, and to work with the community instead of against it, would appear to be moribund. If it were alive and well we would not:

  • Have to wait until 2019 for the Local Law to be amended – especially when the current public question fiasco can occur at the drop of a hat and at the whim of the anti-community forces within council
  • Find planning conferences designated as ‘sensitive’ and accessible by ‘invitation only’
  • Council submissions/consultant’s reports on vital issues would be available PRIOR to council resolution and NOT AFTER
  • etc. etc.
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