Council looking to resolve heritage issues

THE Perth City Council is set to turn to the State Government to solve its difficulty in deciding heritage issues.

At last week’s meeting, the council decided to write to Local Government Minister Michelle Roberts asking that allowances be made for four council members presently unable to vote on heritage issues.

The four have some form of heritage interest and have previously disqualified themselves from voting on heritage issues in general, leaving just five councillors to vote.

This situation has caused difficulties because a minimum of five councillors is needed for a discussion so if one of the remaining councillors is absent, no action can be taken.

If the five councillors disagree on a motion where an absolute majority (five votes) is needed, the motion is automatically lost.

The council is now seeking dispensation from the minister to have regulations determining conflicts of interest relaxed in relation to the heritage issue, allowing all councillors to vote on them as long as there is no direct conflict of interest, such as proximity or financial interests. It is envisaged that a council heritage committee will also be formed and its members will be asked to compile the City’s Municipal Heritage Inventory.

Cr Tess Stroud, who put the motion, and Dr Nattrass said they supported the motion because they felt the heritage issues was too important to be left to such as small group of councillors.

However, the council is divided on the issue, with councillors Bert Tudori, Vincent Tan and Janet Davidson voting against the request for dispensation, arguing that if a conflict of interest has been declared it cannot be ignored under any circumstances.

Cr Davidson also suggested it showed the council was incapable of managing its own affairs as similar difficulties had been resolved without State Government intervention in the past.

The minister’s office advised that requests for dispensation were not uncommon and in most cases were granted after they had been scrutinised by the Department of Local Government.

p More heritage reports, see page 25.

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