The final Council meeting of 2019 is this Wednesday, and among the business to be discussed is the controversial changes to the way the public can address Council at its meetings.
There's a bit about this on page 4 but it's basically that you used to be able to rock up to Council and speak on whatever you liked more of less. There were still rules on how long etc. But changes were voted on that made it so you could only speak on something that was listed on the agenda for that particular Council meeting. There were also changes to how many people could speak on a subject also.
There's a few points here worth pondering. Firstly, any time Council makes these sort of important decisions, they go on public exhibition for a time. It's hard sometimes to empathise with someone when they - after the fact - are upset about a change when they had the chance to make a submission against it. Don't get me wrong, it's your right. But it's all laid out for you more or less. You just have to take the time to inform yourself.
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Secondly, I think Mayor Des Kennedy was right when he said the bulk of the 'feedback' they get as Councillors from the public are works requests.
'Fix my road', 'This thing is broken', 'I got a flat tyre in a pothole'. I can only imagine, that was just a vast over-simplification by me to get my point across. Not unlike calls I field at the Mudgee Guardian.
Lest I make it sound like most of the calls I get are bunk, they're not. A lot of them are great and lead to interesting and fulfilling conversations with people. But sometimes they compel me to ask: Have you called Council about this?
Now, if you've called Council and nothing has been done, then that's probably a story on the failure of local government. But those are rare. One person's disaster is another's mild nuisance. Should Council have to sit through cumulative hours of public grievances?
Another point made by Mayor Kennedy was that the changes don't deny anyone the right to speak on a subject. If it really is something worth talking about, it will come up at a future council meeting anyway - at which point you can speak freely.
It's one thing to be available to the public as a councillor - which they are by the way - the details of each are freely available at Council's website and some are even active on social media. But it's another to be a punching bag for someone needing to vent.
Council will vote on the matter at the meeting on Wednesday.