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Mayor Jim Simmons

Mayor moves shorten CVC meetings

Geoff Helisma

Mayor Jim Simmons tabled a mayoral minute at yesterday’s Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting that aims to improve the efficiency of its meetings.

Taking his cue for the Local Government Performance Excellence Program Report 2020, which was tabled at the February CVC meeting, the mayor wrote in the report to council that “over recent years the duration of meetings has increased exponentially; so that it is now double the average median duration of other councils [in NSW] … despite a decrease in the number of matters considered and resolved”.

However, CVC’s councillors also make roughly twice as many resolutions when compared to the NSW median: in the 2018 financial year CVC resolved 69 items per meeting, compared to the NSW average, 24; in 2019 the median resolution count was 48, compared to the state’s 26; and, in 2020 councillors resolved 42 items per meeting, compared to the state’s 22.

“It is my observation that it is the questioning from the floor before items that can, on occasions, take upwards of 30 minutes prior to debate even commencing,” the mayor wrote.

“This results in matters before council being given disparate consideration, with some being questioned at length and debated robustly and others [given] cursory consideration.”

Councillor Simmons recommended limiting individual councillor’s questions to “no more than three verbal questions per item”, as well as recommending that councillors would not be “restricted to submitting any number of questions by email by 11 am of the day preceding the meeting”.

This could result in the written questions and answers being included in the meeting’s minutes. He also recommended reducing each councillor’s debating time from five to three minutes.

Note: This story was written prior to the CVC meeting; any changes will be published in next week’s Independent.