MELVILLE mayor George Gear is facing his first big test, with the council’s governance committee in a stand-off with the city’s administration.
The council’s CEO Marten Tieleman has dug his heels in after the committee ordered an investigation into complaints against his building departments, bringing in lawyers which has pushed the issue behind closed doors.
It stems back to a 77-signature petition delivered on November 3 last year calling for an independent review into claims made by Bicton resident Mark McLerie about how the council dealt with a number of neighbours’ developments which impacted his properties, and whether he was victimised because of his complaints.
The council referred the petition to its governance committee “for consideration and report”.
The item came up as a “motion without notice” at the committee’s meeting on February 5, and a recommendation for the council to launch the probe and give the committee delegated power to direct the CEO to provide information was passed.
But the council didn’t get to vote on that recommendation, with Mr Tieleman pulling it from last Tuesday’s ordinary meeting with a note that it “preceded any report/information being submitted … by officers”.
“Legal advice has been sought in relation to the council’s ability to support the motion for the administration to implement the motion as presented,” Mr Tieleman’s report continued.
“A copy of the legal advice has been distributed as a confidential attachment to this report.”
Instead Mr Tieleman called for a “special elected members information session” to take them through the legal advice and “the implications of any decision to be taken in respect to this matter”. Councillors agreed unanimously, but only after pulling forward the CEO’s recommended timeframe to report back to them to March 13.
The legal advice will also stay locked away until after the investigation.
by STEVE GRANT