I’m on a quest to visit every local government council meeting in the Perth metropolitan area. There are 29. On each expedition I will write about what I find.
The sixth expedition on my quest was the City of Bayswater
The Mayor was impressive in his opening of the meeting with the acknowledgement of country given in language. The Mayor, Dan Bull set the tone of the meeting from the outset. He was friendly, respectful and polite and overall, relaxed.
While this was his strength he did become less precise as the meeting progressed, allowing people to speak for too long. He started being quite strict about the order of speaking, but less so over time.
The mayor was very flexible and lenient with the public asking questions and this worked in his favour especially as it did not favour anyone in particular.
Speaker count (up to the closing of the doors and my departure) – Two councillors spoke 15 times, one 14, one 13, down to 7 times.
I was struck by the high level of courtesy and respect between councillors and staff. Apart from the minute taker and the CEO, there were 9 staff present – directors and managers.
The declaration of interests was done at the beginning of the meeting and was handled very efficiently – more so than I have seen in some other councils where it can get messy.
At one point the Mayor suggested an amendment to a substantive motion. It was done appropriately and the mover and seconder agreed and it was incorporated into the substantive motion – well handled.
There was a bizarre (the mayor’s own word) discussion about palm trees. It took forever and the public could have been forgiven for thinking it was way too trivial to take up time in a council meeting.
My most important suggestion for Bayswater would be to tighten up the speaking by councillors. They need to be more concise and have much greater clarity. There is a big difference between debating an issue and just talking. The word “waffling” was mentioned in the public gallery more than once.
Overall, the Bayswater meeting was effective but could have been done in less time if councillors were more concise.
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