Monday, 22 March 2010

Council secret meetings

Newcastle Greens
22 March 2010

Greens councillor Michael Osborne today condemned the latest Newcastle council workshops to be held under the council’s secret meeting policy.

Cr Osborne said he had been advised that two unadvertised councillor-staff workshops scheduled tonight will discuss Newcastle’s new standard Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and council’s 2030 Community Strategic Plan.

“These secret workshops demonstrate that the council is now deliberately thumbing its nose at the public demand for more open and accountable city governance,” Cr Osborne said.

“It’s hard to imagine two council policy issues in which the public interest could be greater than the council’s long term community plan, and the city’s primary legal planning instrument,” Cr Osborne said.

“Ironically, the planning and reporting legislation that mandates council community strategic plans (such as the 2030 plan) is meant to be based on maximum community participation.

“And both councillors and council staff know how much interest and concern there is in the local community about the revised LEP.

“Information and discussion on these matters should not take place behind doors locked to the community and the media.

“I know many people in the community who would be interested in what both councillors and council staff would have to say about these issues, and there is absolutely no excuse for depriving them of access to this information.

“This is yet another abuse of council resources, and yet another act of arrogance on the part of a council that drifts further from its rhetorical claims of openness and transparency with every turn of the key that locks the public and the media out of every secret workshop.”

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