Public meeting turns ugly
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
A SHIRE of Toodyay public meeting (pictured above) turned ugly last month when one of 24 members of the public present was allowed by civic leaders to call a fellow elected member sitting next to them a “cancer on the council”.Read more
Darren Prater, who was sitting at the back of the Memorial Hall next to his brother, former shire deputy president John Prater, also said that Cr Ben Bell “doesn’t exactly tell the truth, and spin doctors all the time”.
Shire President Brian Rayner, who chaired the meeting, did not call the meeting to order as Cr Bell sat silently to his left.
None of the other six councillors (Cr Bill Manning was absent on council-approved leave) objected to Mr Prater’s comments, and Shire CEO Stan Scott remained silent.
The verbal attack began after Mr John Prater rose near the end of the meeting to congratulate the council for reversing its March decision not to offer Mr Scott a new contract when it was due to end on July 22.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the community and it’s been a major concern,” Mr John Prater said.
He then criticised The Toodyay Herald for not publishing a photo of an “iconic lady” – former Federal MP Julie Bishop – at last year’s Toodyay races “which I run”, he said.
(The Herald published a Page 1 race crowd photo last October, a story and picture of Mr John Prater with the Toodyay Cup winner on Page 9 and a photo of Ms Bishop online.)
“This negativity is starting to hurt our town, we’ve had enough,” Mr John Prater said.
“I congratulate Stan for hanging in there – it’s taken courage, well done guys.”
Real estate agent Tony Maddox said he had received “hundreds and hundreds” of calls – “the result was just amazing” – after he criticised The Herald in his May back-page advertisement for publishing “negative comments about the shire”.
“We have an awesome CEO, he’s probably the best CEO we’ve ever had and he’s in every community organisation you can ever imagine,” Mr Maddox said.
“I don’t think you deserve what the paper writes, it’s not fair on the community – all the business people here tonight want the positive stuff.
“Let’s let him run this town.”
IGA and Victoria Hotel owner Dean Carter said “I’d like to back up Tony on Stan”.
“I’m personally glad he’s still on board and I’d like to thank you (Mr Scott) for the job you do,” he said.
“You should always think about what you’re going to do rather than what happened 10 years ago.”
Shire Deputy President Therese Chitty said she was “pleased to see the business people here” at the meeting – I’m sure we can get past this negative stuff”.
(The shire public meeting was not advertised in the June Herald a week earlier. Other business owners said they didn’t know it was on and disagreed with what was said.)