MELVILLE council’s admin is planning to clamp down on “hostile” dissenters by banning complaints about staff at electors’ meetings.
The council is updating its guidelines for electors’ meetings and in a draft obtained by the Herald, a paragraph outlawing dissent has been added.
“No motions, discussions, or comments affecting an employee or employees or any individual will be entertained or allowed,” it reads.
The move follows a vote of no confidence which was passed against CEO Shayne Silcox at a meeting of about 200 electors at their December AGM.
He says it’s about providing staff with a safe workplace.
“As a result of increasing and persistent hostile conduct from members of the community at recent council and special elector meetings, the city’s safe workplace is being compromised and employees are being negatively impacted,” Dr Silcox said.
He points to the Occupational Health and Safety Act which says the city must “provide and maintain a working environment in which the employees … are not exposed to hazards”.
A ‘hazard’ is defined in the Act as anything resulting in injury, or harm to the health of an employee.
“As a result, it applies not only to physical safety but also to psychological health and well-being,” Dr Silcox says.
Gary Crawford, former president of the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association, was undoubtedly on Dr Silcox’s mind as he drafted the new paragraph.
Mr Crawford says the crackdown is “utterly undemocratic”.
“If implemented it gives the presiding member the means to stop any criticism and block any scrutiny of the CEO or any member of the management by the residents/ratepayers,” Mr Crawford said.
by ALICE ANGELONI
and STEVE GRANT