COUNCILLOR: Paul Spooner will be moving the motion this week.
COUNCILLOR: Paul Spooner will be moving the motion this week. Samantha Elley

Council to debate further transparency

COUNCILLOR Paul Spooner will move a motion at this week's Byron Shire Council meeting to make all future submissions to council public, unless requested otherwise by the submitter.

In his motion, Cr Spooner said that during his time on the council, there have been a number of occasions when the issue of whether submissions should be made public has arisen.

"The last occurrence of this was at the September council meeting when, due to the non-publication of submissions, the Draft Bike Plan and Draft PAMP was deferred for a decision until the October meeting,” the motion reads.

"This motion seeks council endorsement to ensure this does not occur in the future.

"I believe accountability and transparency are the corner stones of responsible decision making.

"Simply put, if people want to make a submission to influence a council decision transparency and accountability calls for that submission to be made public as a default position.”

In the papers submitted for Thursday's meeting, the council's Anna Vinfield, manager Corporate Services and Ralph James Legal Counsel agreed with Cr Spooner's motion.

"The principles of accountability and transparency are reflected in council's Community Strategic Plan, which includes a strategy to "create a culture of trust with the community by being open, genuine and transparent”,” the council staff said.

"The recent Byron Model deliberations (Res 19-488) also referenced the need for greater transparency and identified a number of initiatives that are to be implemented over the next two years to enhance trust.

"This Notice of Motion is consistent with these strategies and officers are supportive of ensuring submissions are included in business papers.”

Ms Vinfield and Mr James explained the example provided by Cr Spooner of the Draft Bike Plan and Draft PAMP as an administrative error.

In this proposal, if the general manager included any submission in an agenda as "confidential”, the continued confidential status of the submission would be a matter for the council.



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