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Wednesday 1 November 2017

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Councillor ‘breached’ conduct code

Green dream win

ASPENDALE’S St Louis de Montfort’s School is celebrating again after capping several award winning years for its sustainability precinct by being named ‘School of the Decade’ at Sustainability Victoria’s ResourceSmart Schools Awards. See Page 6. Picture: Gary Sissons

Neil Walker MORE than $30,000 of ratepayers’ money has been spent by Kingston Council this year to pay independent arbiters to investigate code of conduct complaints by councillors about fellow councillors. It was revealed at the 23 October public council meeting that a statement on a pre-election campaign flyer distributed by Cr Rosemary West last year was found to have breached the councillor code of conduct after an investigation by an arbiter hired by council. It was one of several complaints lodged by Cr Geoff Gledhill, the Liberal candidate for Mordialloc at next year’s state election, about fellow Central ward Cr Rosemary West’s election flyer and comments made by Cr West on social media. Two arbiters in two separate reports investigated comments made by Cr West about Cr Gledhill’s voting on council’s policy related to protecting green wedge areas from inappropriate development and the contentious debate about narrowing Beach Rd to build the Mentone to Mordialloc section of the Bay Trail. Councillors discussed the arbiters’ reports at the latest public council meeting held on Monday 23 October. Comments made by Cr West on Facebook about the Bay Trail project

Cnr Springvale Rd & Wells Rd, Chelsea Heights PH: 9773 4453 12370121-DJ44-17

were found to not be in breach of the council’s councillor code of conduct by barrister Ragu Appudurai. A statement on Cr West’s election campaign flyer about voting on green wedge matters during the previous four-year council term was in breach of the code, according to arbiter Peter Harris. A majority of councillors backed Cr West’s call at the October council meeting to make both arbiters’ reports public. Several councillors at the meeting criticised the lengthy amount of time it had taken to investigate the complaints and called on the complaints process to be streamlined. The investigations began in December last year and were finalised this month. Cr Ron Brownlees said: “I think it is outrageous that it should take so long to resolve something when council is spending thousands of dollars to pay the professionals to get an outcome and do the investigations.” Crs Steve Staikos and both Cr West and Cr Gledhill also voiced dissatisfaction at the lengthy complaints handling process. “The time taken with these matters, I can only describe it as ‘ridiculous’,” Cr Gledhill said. “It’s not fair on everyone involved.” Continued Page 2

1 November 2017  

Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News 1 November 2017