Archive:   Council Meetings

Last Updated  25/3/14



Council Meeting Dates 2013 / 2014:  More Than The Dates Have Changed!!

(9/4/13-RA-C)  Can anyone remember when WE agreed to almost all Council meetings being held in Gisborne? 


Council has just approved its new Ordinary meeting schedule for 2013/2014.  There are some important changes, although residents haven't been consulted about them.


In 2012/13, there were 4 meetings at Gisborne, 4 at Romsey, and 3 at Kyneton (remembering that Council stopped holding meetings at Woodend in 2011).


In 2013/14, there are 8 meetings at Gisborne, and 1 each at Romsey, Kyneton and Woodend.


While there is only 1 Council MEETING per month, there will again be up to 3 Council BRIEFINGS per month, also all to  be held at Gisborne.


The Woodend meeting apparently can't be held in a Council premises - e.g. the Community Centre.  It's instead to be held at a local (St. Mary's) church hall.  Why?


MRRA Says:


What's going on?


Since amalgamation in 1995, Kyneton has been the Shire's nominal 'headquarters', but at least until now (over the last 18 years) an attempt has been made to make Council accessible to residents in different parts of the Shire.  Under former CEO Lydia Wilson (2000 - 2003), we can even remember Council meetings being held at Riddells Creek, Kerrie, Newham and Malmsbury, back in the day when Council had 2 Ordinary meetings a month. 


Wouldn't you think switching to Gisborne warranted a discussion with the community?  Who decided almost all meetings should be held in Gisborne (and please don't tell us it was the councillors)?  The change to Gisborne was presented to Councillors in a report by officers.  Is that for their convenience?   Because it's not easy to see how this arrangement could be more convenient for - or serve the interests of - most of the community.


Yep, good on 'em (and particularly we understand Cr. Anderson) for giving Woodend back one meeting per year.  But why is Council HIRING a private hall for the meeting, when it has the Council-owned Community Centre available in Woodend?   Please don't tell us the acoustics are bad at the Community Centre.  If every Councillor and every officer had their own microphone, and kept it switched on, hey presto - no such thing as bad acoustics.  Do that in all of the venues and, hey presto again, everyone would be able to hear all that is said at all Council meetings.  Now, that would be a big change, and very good thing (for the community).  So when can we look forward to it happening...


Planning Goes Backward As Council Abandons Planning Committee Meetings

(22/5/11- C)  Less accessibility, less light, less accountability is a recipe for returning to the dark days of the past 


Macedon Ranges Council has decided to no longer hold monthly Planning Committee meetings. When introduced in 2003, the local press described these meetings as a 'silent revolution'.  For the first time residents had access to planning decisions and planning processes that affect them, and were allowed to address Councillors before a decision was made.  


Justification for dropping these meetings is provided in the Chief Executive Officer's report to Council on 20 May 2011 states that "the Planning Committee has been a useful and successful mechanism on a number of fronts..." and lists some of the benefits the system has delivered to the decision-making process.

It goes on to say the disadvantages of the Planning Committee include less than 10% of the officers' recommendations being overturned or altered in the last two years, so undue delay has occurred in the decision making process for these cases (presumably those which went to the Planning Committee and went through).


The report then says that it can be argued that the system has served its purpose and Council can confidently move forward because:

Without the Planning Committee meeting, Council and its processes will only be accessible to the public once a month, that is, the Ordinary council meeting towards the end of each month.  Until 2008, Council held 3 meetings per month.


Council also decided to abandon any further Council meetings in Woodend, and future meetings will be held only at Kyneton, Gisborne and Romsey.

Additionally, Council gave planning officers more power to make planning decisions under delegation. Notable changes are that officers can make decisions relating to liquor licenses, and amend Development Plans, on their own accord.


MRRA Says:


This isn't good enough. 


For a start, why wasn't the community consulted about what it wanted?


These changes symbolize a retreat from the basic principles of democracy, and will come back to bite us. 


Less accountability, transparency and public access in operations and decision-making is always a recipe for disaster, particularly in planning.  The Shire has already experienced the horrors this type of situation can produce and is still paying for them. In those days, Macedon Ranges was the laughing stock of the State.


28 November Council Meeting Start Time Changed

(20/11/07 - C)  Residents are asked to please note change

If you are planning to go along to the next Ordinary Council Meeting (to be held in Woodend), please note carefully that the starting time of the meeting has been wound forward an hour, and will now start at 6.00pm instead of 7.00pm.


Council Changes Meeting Starting Times - Again

(17/9/07 - C)  All regularly scheduled meetings (Ordinary Council, Planning, and General Purpose) will now start at 7:00pm. Go to Meeting List


Change of Council Meeting Venue

(28/8/07 - C)  General Purposes Meeting on 5th September will now be held in Gisborne  

Residents are asked to note that the General Purposes meeting scheduled for Kyneton on 5th September 2007 has been moved to the Gisborne Centre (former Western Water headquarters), Robertson Street, Gisborne.  Renovation works as part of the Shire's office restructure at Kyneton are given as the cause for the change.  The meeting is scheduled to start at 7.0pm.


Council Makes Big Changes To The Coming Year's Council Meeting Schedules

(29/5/07 - C)  Two become one, later starts, evening briefings for Councillors, Gisborne becomes planning headquarters

At last Wednesday's Council meeting in Romsey, Macedon Ranges' Councillors voted to make substantial changes to how Council's official meetings will run.  First off, the Finance and Operations and the Policy and Issues committees have been melted into an omnibus-sounding "General Purposes" committee, starting 1 June, 2007.   Cr. Noel Harvey (West ward) will chair this new committee for the next 7 months, with Cr. Tom Gyorffy taking over the chair for the following 6 months to 30th June, 2008.  The new committee will continue to operate as a Special Committee of Council, under section 86 of the Local Government Act.  Councillors' dinner time will now be earlier, and most meetings will start later, to allow a Councillor briefing time between dinner and the meeting.  This is something of a first and should finally allow all Councillors to attend briefings, instead of the few who currently attend afternoon briefing sessions.  2007 will also see Council transfer major operations to the refurbished Council offices in Gisborne, where Planning Committee meetings will be permanently based as from August 2007.


Residents should note that no Council meetings will be held in the first week of November (due to the Melbourne and Kyneton Cups), that the Special Council meeting to elect the Mayor and Deputy Mayor will be held on 5th December 2007 (6.00pm, Kyneton), and that no formal meetings will be held in the month of January, 2008.   Click here to see the 2007/2008 meeting schedule.


MRRA Says:


At face value, this is a responsible move.  Adoption of a meeting schedule that actually allows ALL Councillors to attend briefings is the only acceptable path.  These briefings are currently scheduled in the afternoons because that timing happened to suit some Councillors.  The end result of that has been the exclusion of some Councillors from information-gathering processes, and an increased community perception of executive-style decision-making 'behind closed doors'.  So we say "well done" to Council on this one (assuming that afternoon briefings will no longer occur), although we have some reservations about other changes.


Will the new timing work, particularly the proposed new meeting closure time of 10.30 pm, especially with 2 of the 3 meetings (Ordinary and General Purposes) scheduled to start 1 and 2 hours (respectively) later than now?   Anyone who has sat in the Council chamber gallery until almost midnight will understand this concern.


And hands up anyone who knows just what the new "General Purposes" committee is about...  While the names of the previous committees (Finance and Operations, and Policy and Issues) were cumbersome, they at least gave a clue to what would be on the agenda.  "General Purposes" comes across as being vulnerable to becoming the meeting for anything, almost a sort-of Council meeting, yet, oddly, still operating under delegation. 


Are we on our way back to two Council meetings a month, or one meeting and a de facto one?  Now that would be a pity, because the Finance and Operations and the Policy and Issues meetings were originally intended to be briefings to Councillors that were also open to the public, which is why these committees operated under delegation and their recommendations had to go back to full Council for endorsement.  Initiated in 2004, they took the place of afternoon briefing sessions held by pre-2003 Councils (and unfortunately re-instated by the current Council), and gave residents a chance to see Council processes operating at a less formal level.  Now it all seems a bit confused and, well, in some ways directionless, and we just wonder whether the original (and quite clear) objectives for establishing these committees isn't being lost. 


Mmm...  MRRA will be keeping its powder dry on this one until we've seen the colour of Council's pants (so to speak), particularly how it handles the principles of 'open and transparent government' (that underpinned the now defunct committees) in going forward with the new committee.


First Planning, And Now Democracy, Crash In Macedon Ranges

(9/4/07 - C)  The way this Council is going, are there any takers on how long it will be before 'Finances' joins Planning and Democracy in the 'not working' bin?

It is pretty well established by now that most of our current Councillors don't seem to know about planning or care about getting good development outcomes (look at how they overturned Panel recommendations on C47, approved Macedon Lodge, etc).  And we know they don't seem to have quite caught hold of the concept of accountability (look at the Code of Conduct adopted late last year).  So, how are they on consulting the community?   No, there's not much joy there either because now most of our Councillors have officially decided that listening to the community is just getting too much like hard work.


At last Wednesday's Council committee meeting most of our Councillors took another step away from 'commitment to the community' when they voted 7 to 1 to set up a 3 Councillor committee to hear community submissions on Council issues (under Section 223 of the Local Government Act).  Up until now, those community submissions (e.g. on the budget, land sales etc) had been heard by full Council.  Now, what the community has to say will be filtered back to the other Councillors via the Mayor of the day, and one Councillor from each other ward (and don't we all wonder who they might be?).  MRRA's information is that only Cr. Rob Guthrie (South Ward) opposed going down this path.  NB  Cr. Tom Gyorffy (West Ward) left the meeting early and was absent for this vote.