Whittlesea council to consider appointing municipal monitor

Northern Star Weekly
2 May 2018
Laura Michell

UPDATE: Whittlesea mayor Kris Pavlidis  has welcomed the request for a municipal mointor to be appointed to the council.

“The City of Whittlesea is at an exciting stage of growth and prosperity and requires mature, responsible and transparent decision makers around the table, ” she said.

“As chairperson I have been increasingly concerned at the conduct from some councillors during council meetings.

“Council meetings need to be a place of robust, intelligent debate and importantly a place of decorum.  As mayor, I am committed to chairing meetings that allow decision making to follow democratic processes and where councillors conduct themselves professionally, respectfully and adhere to the relevant code of conduct and legislation.  This is what our community expects and deserves.”

Whittlesea council hold a special council meeting next Tuesday to consider appointing a municipal monitor to oversee the council.

Three councillors- Ricky Kirkham, Alahna Desiato and Caz Monteleone- will use the meeting to push for a monitor to be installed for the next 18 months.

The councillors say the monitor, which would need to be appointed by Local Government Minister Marlene Kairouz, would review governance and the council’s decision making.

Cr Kirkham said he was concerned the council was making “poor decisions”.

“There is a culture of censorship where poor decisions are rammed through,” he said.

“Confidence needs to be restored to give ratepayers faith council is acting in their best interests.”

Cr Desiato said appointing a monitor was the council’s only option.

“I feel voiceless and unable to exercise my elected responsibilities,” she said.

The push to appoint a monitor follows Cr Kirkham’s calls for the council to be replaced with an administrator if its behaviour doesn’t improve.

Chief executive Simon Overland issued a notice about the special council meeting prior to the start of last night’s council meeting.

Councillors Kirkham, Desiato and Monteleone were absent from last night’s meeting, along with councillors Norm Kelly and Mary Lalios.

As reported by Star Weekly, Cr Lalios has taken leave from council. It is unclear when she will return.

The meeting heard that councillors Lalios, Desiato and Monteleone had sent their apologises for being absent.

However the six councillors who attended the meeting- Kris Pavlidis, Lawrie Cox, Sam Alessi, Emilia Lisa Sterjova, Tom Joseph and Stevan Kozmevski- refused to accept their apologies.

Cr Cox asked Mr Overland to explain why Cr Lalios had missed two council meetings when the council had not received a request for leave from her.

Mr Overland said Cr Lalios’ absence related to a confidential matter, adding that he believed she was unwell.

Cr Sam Alessi said the absent councillors were taking their councillor allowance “under false pretences”.

“This is a really sad night. In the 20 years I have been in local government, this hasn’t happened,” he said.

Reference

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