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City of Swan fobs off calls to change start times

The City of Swan has ignored requests by residents made at a special electors meeting in May to start its council meetings an hour later so more residents can attend and voted to make no change to its 5.30pm start time.

The shire has still not bothered to ask residents what they think about this issue, despite saying they would do a survey back in June, and Guildford resident Peter Langlands said their lack of action on this issue was a shame.

He said this should have been done months ago.

“Online polling combined with contacting ratepayers and other interest groups could be achieved relatively easily and quickly,” Dr Langlands said.

Changing the meeting start time simply requires a resolution by the council and in the meantime the city has continued to ignore requests to trial a 6.30pm starting time.

In June, the city sidestepped a push to have its 5.30pm council meetings start at a time more convenient for working people and families, and instead chose to write a report about it.

In August the city admitted it had not started any public surveys about changing its starting times despite this being raised as an issue of community concern by residents.

At the council meeting last month councillors voted to keep the 5.30pm meeting time unchanged.

The council also voted to start using survey forms for each meeting as well as an online survey, to gather data for the future council consideration.

But the council did not say when this process would start.

In its September agenda the city said the 5.30pm start time had remained unchanged for many years and the impact on councillors would have to be considered.

The report said the longest time spent at a council meeting was two and a half hours, which means most councillors would leave for home around 9pm after they finished the free meal they enjoyed after every council meeting.

But simply eating before the council meeting, instead of after the meeting, would make a 6.30pm start time easy to do and councillors would still leave for home around 9pm should the meeting run for two and a half hours.

In comparison, all of the other shires in Echo New’s distribution eat first.

Mundaring Shire’s councillors have dinner at 5.45pm for a 6.30pm council meeting start.

A Mundaring Shire spokesperson said the start times used to be different but were changed a number of years ago to allow greater accessibility for members of the public wanting to attend.

The spokesperson said an early dinner also ensured councillors ate at a reasonable time rather than waiting until after meetings, which can run quite late.

Kalamunda Shire councillors sit down to a 5.30pm meal and the council meeting starts at 6.30pm.

Councillors at The Town of Bassendean also eat before their council meeting, which starts at 7pm.

About Rashelle Predovnik

Rashelle has been the senior journalist at Echo News since June 2011. She was a finalist in the WA Media Awards in 2015 and 2013. In 2014 Rashelle took out the whole print category in the Deborah Kirwan Media Awards for a series of stories she wrote that has positively influenced community attitudes towards seniors. In 2013, Rashelle was a finalist in the Consumer Protection Media Awards. Before joining Echo News, Rashelle worked at WA Business News, Media Monitors, she was a freelance journalist and taught journalism units at Murdoch University.

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