Silcox under pump

MELVILLE council CEO Shayne Silcox will have to explain a vote of no confidence by the city’s electors at his next performance review.

Following the announcement of an official state inquiry into Melville, 156 ratepayers packed the public gallery for the annual general meeting of electors on December 6 to pepper the council with questions about its transparency and complaint-handling procedures, the proposed Alfred Cove wave park and a controversial social media site.

As the feisty meeting was wrapping up, Winthrop resident Ian Rice successfully moved the no confidence motion, citing the looming inquiry and “unresolved issues of citizens of Melville.”

“There was a lot of discontentment in the room that night,” Mr Rice later told the Herald.

“It was the first time I’ve been to a meeting like that or done anything like that, but I felt like I had to, because residents need somebody to stand up with them and hold the council to account.”

Flawed

The city’s admin tried to slap down Mr Rice’s motion, with a staff recommendation at this week’s ordinary council meeting dismissing it as “flawed and factually incorrect”, but that didn’t quite go to plan.

Instead councillors voted 9 – 4 to refer the series of motions that were carried on the night to Dr Silcox’s performance review. The dissenting voices belonged to mayor Russell Aubrey and close allies Duncan Macphail, Patricia Phelan and Guy Weiland.

Councillor Katie Mair, a former mayor whose return to the chamber at the October council elections has dented Mr Aubrey’s power base, said the vote wasn’t meant to be seen as having a go at the CEO, but it was procedurally fair to include Mr Rice’s motion along with others passed at the electors meeting which called for measures such as recorded meetings and a complaint-handling committee.

Dr Silcox says he’s not paid to be popular, but to make decisions in the interests of the community.

“So I do not resile from my actions,” he says.

During the electors’ AGM, Synergy chairman Lyndon Rowe, a former head of the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had to poke the council a couple of times before getting an answer to his question about the wave park.

Referring to a clause in Wave Park Group’s lease which says the company has to submit plans to the council before lodging a development application, Mr Rowe asked whether there’d be a chance for public consultation at this point; the answer, eventually, was no.

Jane Edinger wanted to find out if mayor Russell Aubrey was involved in a Facebook group with a history of cyber bullying, but Mr Aubrey said he’d had no involvement other than adding members at the request of the moderator.

”My understanding was that particular Facebook page was more of a current affairs site than the other Melville chat site and I would presume therefore of topical interest to anyone interested in the City of Melville, consequently I added some friends to the group,” Mr Aubrey later told the Herald.

The mayor says he has suffered bullying and harassment on a number of Facebook pages himself and he is disappointed to see it occurring in Melville.

It wasn’t all council bashing on the night: Palmyra’s Jamie Wedgewood got stuck into former Melville Residents and Ratepayer Association president Gary Crawford over his fine and spent conviction for damaging native plants on a nature reserve opposite his house, while former councillor Alex Bajada tried to get a motion up strongly endorsing the CEO, staff and councillors, but he was unsuccessful.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT and STEVE GRANT

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