Fireworks at meeting

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CITY of Whittlesea Mayor, Cr Kris Pavlidis has had her leadership called into question following last week’s council meeting which saw two councillors removed from the chambers and another two walk out.

In the first meeting to be held since this month’s council mayoral vote, it was clear that councillors were not happy with what Cr Pavlidis stated in her mayor speech as the ‘new regime’.

Under pressure from the beginning of the meeting, Cr Pavlidis faced a dissent motion seventeen minutes in for not reading out a question from former councillor Christine Stow.
Former mayor Ricky Kirkham recalled councillors around the table being ‘very vocal’ when he refused to answer questions at the Mernda council meeting earlier this year and he warned they needed to be consistent. In March, Cr Kirkham faced a dissent motion which was led by councillors Pavlidis and Sam Alessi for not reading out a question from a member of the public.

“The mayor showed poor leadership by not answering the question. There needs to be consistency,” Cr Kirkham said.

Cr Mary Lalios said the dissent motion was about leadership and transparency, and “making sure what the mayor said in her speech when elected a few weeks ago is followed through.”
To the dismay of the public sitting in the gallery, councillors continued to argue back and forth throughout a tense five-and-a-half hour meeting, interrupting and insulting each other.

Tempers flared among the councillors and the gallery, with fed-up residents upset over a council decision regarding Lyndarum Drive, Epping verbally abusing councillors and accusing them of being corrupt.

Community members who were at the meeting have told the Whittlesea Review that the meeting was a “joke” and they were disgusted by council’s behaviour.
Cr Lalios was the first councillor to be removed at the meeting at 9.10pm after repeated warnings for talking over the mayor and for her ‘tone’. Cr Lalios was visibly upset when she left the chambers calling the decision ‘disgusting’.

Councillors Norm Kelly and Alahna Desiato walked out of the council meeting at 11pm and 11.36pm respectively. Cr Desiato had proposed a sensible amendment regarding a motion put forward by Cr Cox to move the Whittlesea Community Festival back to its original location.

Asking if council could first assess if the festival was successful at its new location at the Civic Centre in South Morang, Cr Desiato was told no by Cr Cox because of “the behaviour of some councillors here tonight”.
Cr Kirkham was then shown the door by the mayor at 11.40pm after several warnings that his behaviour was not acceptable.
Both Cr Kirkham and Cr Lalios took to social media after the meeting saying they would not be gagged.

Cr Lalios said there’s a meeting process that needs to be followed and it needs to be applied equally.

“Having a robust debate is something that needs to happen in the council chamber,” she continued.

“The mayor was lecturing to council about their behaviour but she needs to put a mirror to her face.

“I take my meeting procedure very seriously. Ignoring legitimate points of order is very flawed and a very slippery, dangerous road we are going down.”
During the council meeting Cr Pavlidis stated she didn’t like to remove councillors but they had left her with no choice.