The Herald's cartoon "A Guide to Newcastle Council Meeting Procedure" (Friday 22nd June 2007) appears to be designed to create the impression that Council meetings are violent, full of abuse and out of control; and to further create the perception that Newcastle City Council is "dysfunctional".
It is a damaging and totally false impression and an insult to the Lord Mayor and 12 councillors. I challenge the Herald to provide hard evidence that the cartoon has any basis in fact.
Further, The Herald article "Rate rise slips by meeting"(Friday 22nd June 2007) claimed that "it emerged yesterday that the 4 community submissions that several councillors said they had not seen, prompting Tuesday night's deferral had been available in the councillors' tearoom for more than a month".
In fact, the deferral was the result of the late delivery of a detailed staff report analysing 2 comprehensive submissions (by Hunter Business Chamber and Throsby Community Forum). The report should have been in the business papers given to councillors and released to the public the week before the meeting.
It was e-mailed to councillors' homes at 4.28 pm on Tuesday afternoon, after most had left to attend the meeting. Most had not seen the report. They needed adequate time to read and digest it and discuss it among their political groups.
The article also claims that "several members of the city's community forums described the councillors' latest pickle as a joke and a circus". Executive members of the affected forums have told me that they supported the councillors' actions and were outraged at the staff's treatment of their submissions.
Many cheered the decision to defer from the public gallery and have sent councillors supportive e-mails.
No doubt staff pressures resulted in the late delivery. Council's deferral, however, was the appropriate and proper decision and the only way to give the 2 community submissions the respect they deserve.
Cr Keith Parsons.
1/161 Scott St, Newcastle, 2300.