Friday, December 14, 2018

Council narrowly avoids no-confidence vote

General manager Greg Winton, left, and
mayor Ben Shaw discussing the voting
on the no-confidence motion.
COUNCILLORS have used their numbers to defeat a no-confidence motion at the Derwent Valley Council's annual general meeting. Facing its second confidence motion in as many years, the council failed to have its annual report accepted at last night's meeting in the New Norfolk Courthouse, and voters refused to confirm the minutes of last year's AGM as a true record.

The no-confidence motion was moved by local resident Darren Graham, who has been a vocal critic of the council's waste management practices. Former councillor Chris Lester seconded the motion.

Speaker Wayne Shoobridge said it appeared that some councillors had an agenda of not opening up the council but closing it, while Mr Graham said it was difficult to communicate with the council through locked doors in the council chambers.

Members of the public voting for the no-confidence motion.
Confusion over local government voting procedure saw the confidence motion voted on twice, with 15 in favour and 13 opposed, including six councillors.

The gallery erupted when mayor Ben Shaw declared that the motion had failed, 15 votes to 18, when five abstentions were added to the "no" vote. Cr Shaw said this was in accordance with Tasmania's Local Government Meeting Procedure Regulations, which counts abstentions as "no" votes.

Cr Shaw said after the meeting he was aware of the discontent with the council, some of which was historic rather than recent. "It's fantastic that the community can have their say [but] voting at an AGM doesn't actually affect the day-to-day running of a council," he said.

Councillors and members of the public voting against the motion.
"I understand that there's some people in the community with some issues from previous councils - longstanding issues - and some other people who have come along to have their say because of other reasons."

Cr Shaw urged residents to engage with their councillors and to bring their concerns to question time at a council meeting to get them on the record. "Most of this group of councillors are new and I would urge the community to give them a go; let them put the changes in place that they said they wanted to do during their election campaigns."

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