by Brooke Haffenden
QUESTIONS have once again been asked over the efficiency of the Whittlesea Council with one councillor referring to it as a ‘circus’.
The questions come following the recent council meeting on Tuesday, February 6 where the mayor removed former deputy mayor Cr Norm Kelly and then closed proceedings to the public gallery.
The meeting, which is normally held at council’s civic office in South Morang, was held at the Community Activity Centre, Barry Road, Thomastown, with many members of the community turning out in protest over the Mill Park Leisure Centre as well as the proposed roundabout at Betula Avenue/Belmont Way Mill Park.
Tensions hit a boiling point when Cr Kelly, attempting to move an alternate resolution to the Mill Park roundabout, was ‘blocked’ by Cr Sam Alessi who stood to move the recommendation.
Whittlesea Mayor Cr Pavlidis accepted the item from Cr Alessi, which angered Cr Kelly who had been standing prior to Cr Alessi ‘jumping’ out of his seat. Calling the mayor biased, Cr Kelly told the mayor he didn’t care if he was removed as the way council is running “is a joke.”
“This is a dictatorship,” Cr Kelly said to the mayor.
“You’re a disgrace.”
Cr Kelly’s comments were met with cheering and clapping from the public. Calling the gallery “unruly”, Cr Pavlidis closed the meeting pursuant to section 89 of the Local Government Act.
Council then dealt with items of confidential business and re-opened the meeting to the public one and a half hours later – by which time most of the attendees had left.
In a statement to the media, Cr Pavlidis said council was pleased to see a large number of people at the meeting but the frequent interruptions made it difficult for councillors to hear each other and for council to effectively conduct its meeting.
“Council strongly believes in the importance of open and transparent governance but we do need to ensure that we can still effectively run the meeting.
“Residents are very welcome to attend our meetings but the time to discuss their concerns is not during a formal meeting. All councillors are very happy to discuss residents’ concerns at any other time.” Cr Kelly told the Whittlesea Review he was disappointed in the mayor.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful the way it (council) has been running,” he said.
“Council has turned into a circus.”
“If the mayor can’t be fair and equitable among the other 10 councillors, and if she’s going to be biased towards the Labor endorsed councillors and the independent Tom Joseph, she should step down.”
Following the meeting, the Whittlesea Review was contacted by Cr Alahna Desiato who was also quite upset about the night’s events.
“Mayor Pavlidis treated the residents as children and insulted them on numerous occasions before kicking them out,” she said.
“Resident’s left the meeting in tears because they felt voiceless. Last night showed that Cr Alessi couldn’t care less about residents – he tried to ram through a roundabout and blocked Cr Kelly from providing an alternative solution.”
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