Capalaba MP Don Brown slams Redland City Council for halving general meetings to once a month

AGENDA: Redland City Council will now have monthly meetings in 2021 instead of fortnightly.
AGENDA: Redland City Council will now have monthly meetings in 2021 instead of fortnightly.

CAPALABA MP Don Brown has blasted Redlands councillors, accusing them of halving their workload after council's general meeting schedule was cut for 2021.

But council says councillors will spend the same amount of time in meetings, with sessions now scheduled to run for almost a full day, twice as long as previous meetings.

Previously council gathered fortnightly for meetings, a total of 24 for 2020.

Mr Brown said it was "unacceptable" that council had slashed its meetings to the legal minimum, but were able to meet frequently last year during the COVID-19 pandemic and with an election.

"Now it not the time to be halving your work. It sends the completely wrong message to ratepayers that you are serious about leading the city through the COVID-19 recovery," he said.

Council unanimously adopted the new 2021 meeting schedule at a general meeting on November 4, 2020.

Cr Paul Golle said the new schedule brought Redland City Council in line with other local governments in the south-east.

"We can call special meetings as required," he said.

Logan and Ipswich City Councils meet once a month with Scenic Rim sticking to the fortnightly schedule.

Cr Wendy Boglary said council would make changes to meeting schedules as needed.

"We are moving to monthly meetings, however if we find they are way too long, or we are not able to cope and there are concerns, the schedule can be adjusted throughout the year."

Mayor Karen Williams said the new schedule gave council the opportunity to see if it worked.

"If it doesn't we can return to our previous way of doing business," she said.

A spokesperson for council said the move to a trial of monthly meetings would likely provide efficiencies and cost savings, as well the opportunity for councillors to spend more time working in their communities.

"The number of meetings doesn't equate to the amount of time councillors meet, with the monthly meetings scheduled in councillor diaries for twice as long as current meetings and additional meetings to be added as needed," he said.

Previously council meetings were scheduled for conclusion by 1pm but regularly ran over. General meetings are now scheduled to conclude by 4:30 pm.

Since COVID-19 restrictions were imposed, the public does not have access to the council chambers and are unable to watch the meeting on a live stream. The webcast and minutes are uploaded on the council website days after the meeting.

Mr Brown believed councillors had halved their workload with this decision.

"This builds on council's poor track record of openness and transparency, with no public access and no real-time live stream like other South East Queensland councils," he said.

Logan and Ipswich City Councils live stream their meetings and Scenic Rim has an audio recording posted on their website.

The next Redland City Council meeting will be on January 20.