Councillors'air concerns about a caucus within the chamber.
Councillors'air concerns about a caucus within the chamber.

Councillors raise concerns about caucus

TWO first-term councillors have gone public with their frustrations about how democracy is faring in the city.

Eight months after being elected and a week after airing his suspicions about a binding caucus being at play, Cr Bob Palmer has been joined by Cr Garry Innes in detailing concerns about the impact an alleged councillor clique is having on staff and the community.

"Last week, when Cr Cowling repeatedly used the word 'we' I couldn't help but wonder if a binding caucus was in action," Cr Palmer said.

"Councillors getting together in an exclusive group and making decisions prior to meetings is against the spirit of the Council Code of Conduct."

Cr Innes said the situation where five councillors - Nan Cowling, John Arkan, Rod Degens, Mark Sultana and Sally Townley - were repeatedly voting as a block was in stark contrast to promises made before last year's poll.

"The community elected two Liberals, one Green and six independents, but you have to wonder if some of these councillors are performing as they promised," he said.

Cr Palmer said a formal meeting on May 20 raised suspicions a binding caucus may be operating.

"Only five of the nine councillors were invited to that meeting, and four attended," he said. "We are supposed to be an inclusive council working with a common aim of serving this community.

Cr Innes said: "I'm miffed at being excluded and worried that democracy is being jeopardised."

Both men said their concerns were for the impact on staff.

"I chose to stand for council because I wanted to work with the very good staff we have here," Cr Palmer said. "Many are feeling uncertain about their futures and under attack."

The pair denied that they themselves were also part of a binding caucus and were merely upset that they were outnumbered four to five.

"I don't meet other councillors on the sly and I don't agree with anyone to vote as part of a bloc," Cr Innes said.

Crs Palmer and Innes said they have gone public to clear the air.