Council ‘culture and dynamics’ face further scrutiny
THE ‘culture and dynamics’ of the Toodyay Shire Council’ will be reviewed in a further State-funded investigation after a damning report on a year-long inquiry was tabled in the WA Parliament last year.
The recommended review will examine the council’s performance and behaviour from 1 November 2019 to February this year.
It will seek anonymous responses from councillors and staff “ensuring they can speak and/or submit information freely”.
The review will be jointly headed by former City of Perth Commissioner Andrew Hammond (left).Read more
The formal review follows a year-long State Government inquiry which made 25 adverse findings against the former council and shire – including 14 adverse findings against former shire CEO Stan Scott – over a seven-year period.
Two councillors who led the council for part of that period – former shire president Brian Rayner and former deputy president Therese Chitty – still serve on the council.
A third, former Cr Paula Greenway, resigned at the end of April with six months of her four-year term left to serve.
Last year’s findings include that the former council failed to “give guidance and direction” to the former CEO over the loss of $550,000 of ratepayers’ money in a failed court case against two former civic leaders.
“The new council voted 7-2 at its April meeting (Crs Greenway and Mick McKeown opposed) to appoint Perth local government consultants Hammond Woodhouse Advisory to conduct the latest review and report back to the State Government by September 30.
Joint consultancy principal Andrew Hammond is a former City of Perth Commissioner and former CEO at the shires of Nannup, Wyndham and East Kimberley, and at the cities of Albany and Rockingham.
The WA Electoral Commission wrote last month that it would approve a May council decision to defer an election until October.
It will be the first time all Toodyay voters decide who fills the seat after the 2017 vote was restricted to only those living in the now-abolished former West Ward – which includes Morangup – when former Cr Greenway was re-elected with 214 votes.
Crs Brian Rayner and Therese Chitty, whose four-year terms also expire in October, are the only other two remaining councillors who have never faced all Toodyay voters.
Nobody voted for Cr Rayner in 2017 when he was the only candidate to stand in the now-abolished North Ward, and Cr Chitty was elected in the former East Ward with with only 284 votes.
A total of 2575 Toodyay electors were enrolled to vote in 2017, and 3425 in 2019.
Cr Ben Bell topped the shire’s historic first postal ballot of all Toodyay electors in 2019 with a record 1126 votes when ward restrictions were abolished.
A council forum in April discussed whether more money could be saved by cutting the number of Toodyay councillors from nine to seven, as in neighbouring Goomalling, Chittering and York.
The Local Government Advisory Board said last month that it was too late this year to elect a smaller council in October.
The board said it needed to be formally notified of an absolute majority vote of at least five supporting Toodyay councillors by January 31 in a local government election year.
The board would then take a further six to nine months to review and publish its decision in the WA Government Gazette.
This needed to be done by June 30 in an election year to enable the WA Election Commission (WAEC) to modify the poll.
“The good news is that if your Shire decides to commence a representation review (via council resolution) soon, then you will be well ahead of the game for the 2023 LG elections!” the board wrote.
Cutting the council’s size was omitted from last month’s decision to leave former Cr Greenway’s seat empty until October.
Councillors voted 7-0 (Cr Bell absent on council-approved leave) to seek WAEC approval to defer an extraordinary election until the state-wide October poll.