MELVILLE council’s executive staff have been “too close to the issues” according to a probe by the state government.
Staff and councillors are also expected to undergo further training which will include teaching them about body language during meetings.
Following 200 complaints about Melville (100 apparently from just two people) the local government department’s governance manager met with CEO Shayne Silcox and his legal director three times to discuss the issues raised and measures to improve how the council deals with complaints.
Department staff also quietly rocked up to council meetings to keep an eye on proceedings.
Last month local government minister David Templeman wrote to the chair of a parliamentary committee considering an inquiry into the city, outlining the results of the meetings.
Satisfied, the committee has now shelved the inquiry.
“The department suggested that the city appoint an independent person to deal with complaints from several groups, such as the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association and the Alfred Cove Action Group,” Mr Templeman wrote.
“Department observations are that the city’s executive staff are too close to the issues and it would be prudent for an independent person to review and act on complaints about city processes and decisions.”
Mr Templeman revealed Melville had taken on a staffer to deal with media relations, but had been advised to give senior staff training because of comments picked up by the media which hadn’t helped its cause.
Alfred Cove Action Group convenor David Maynier was one of the lead petitioners and says he’s glad action’s been taken and residents listened to.
But he says there are still questions about how transparent the council’s been about a proposed wave park at Alfred Cove, saying they’ve been far too generous to proponents Wave Park Group.
Mr Maynier says his group recently met with the state planning department to try and get the wave park subjected to a public consultation period.
A quirk in the laws has meant the discovery of a road reserve through part of the lease area has seen the development kicked to the South Metro JDAP rather than being assessed under the Swan Canning Rivers Management Act.
There’s no requirement for planning to hold a public consultation before the development is assessed.
by STEVE GRANT