Call for Hume council monitor

Hume City council . Photo by Damjan Janevski. 228421_02

By Oliver Lees

A Hume councillor has called for a monitor to be appointed to oversee the council in a bid to resolve “deep cultural issues among councillors”.

It comes as eight arbiter’s reports were presented to last night’s council meeting, costing ratepayers more than $74,000.

The reports follow an earlier arbiter’s report, which was tabled at the July 12 council meeting, and cost ratepayers $3000.

“What everyone has observed tonight… is that there are deep cultural issues among councillors at Hume,” Cr Jodi Jackson said last night.

“For the benefit of our ratepayers, I think that it’s entirely appropriate for a monitor to be appointed here to Hume City Council as a matter of urgency.”

Eleven allegations of breaches of Hume council’s Councillor Code of Conduct were investigated as part of an internal arbitration process into the conduct of Cr Trevor Dance.

This arbitration process was instigated by a group of councillors who were represented by Cr Carly Moore.

The arbiter’s report presented to council found Cr Dance contravened eight clauses of Hume council’s Code of Conduct.

The council has directed Cr Dance to make a verbal apology in relation to the breaches at the October 25 council meeting. He was also directed not to attend the next two council meetings.

Cr Dance left last night’s council meeting before the arbiter’s reports were tabled, due to a work commitment. He declared a conflict of interest in all eight reports prior to leaving the meeting.

The internal arbitration process cost ratepayers $16,500, not including the cost of staff time and internal room hire costs.

Cr Dance submitted seven applications instigating internal arbitration processes for findings of misconduct toward other councillors.

These processes included allegations relating to mayor Joseph Haweil and councillors Moore, Jack Medcraft and Karen Sherry.

The arbiter determined that there were no findings of misconduct in each of these applications made by Cr Dance.

These internal arbitration processes cost ratepayers $57,750, not including the cost of staff time and internal room hire costs.

Cr Haweil described the meeting as “a very, very sad day for Hume council”.

“I take absolutely no delight in the fact that one councillor has been found to have breached the code of conduct … on eight allegations by the arbiter,” he said.

Cr Medcraft, who was subject to three internal arbitration processes tabled at the meeting, said the process had been “devastating”.

“The pressure I’ve been under with all these complaints for no result is devastating to me and I’m really upset about it,” he said.

Star Weekly understands there are at least three other internal arbitration processes relating to the council under way