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December 2, 2021

Byron Council to vote on delegating authority to Mayor during COVID-19

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Paul Bibby

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson would be given far-reaching emergency decision making powers under a motion to be voted on at this week’s council meeting.

In the council’s latest response to COVID-19, councillors will consider giving Cr Richardson delegated authority over all council functions that are not already delegated to the General Manager, including authorising the expenditure of council funds up to $50,000.

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson. Photo David Hancock

He would also be able to make decisions on council’s behalf where he considers that ‘an urgent decision is required for the efficient and effective administration of the Council’.

The Mayor would only be able to use the powers in the period between meetings of Council and where it is not reasonable or practical to call an Extraordinary Meeting, and when the Mayor considers that the exercise of the delegation is ‘necessary in the interests of the local community or the wider public’.

He must also first consult with the General Manager as to the proposed exercise of the delegation.

‘During the current crisis, delegations provide a means of enabling councils to continue functioning in a timely and responsive manner as events unfold quickly and urgent decisions need to be made,’ said Council’s legal counsel Ralph James who has put motion forward.

‘This is particularly so where urgent decisions need to be made between council meetings and the calling of an extraordinary meeting would not be a sufficiently responsive or feasible way of making the decision.’

Mr James also said that a number of other councils were moving to confer such emergency powers to ensure that they could continue provide goods and services needed for their communities during the crisis.

‘During the crisis, there is a strong case for governing bodies to delegate to mayors all of the functions of the council which are not delegated to the general manager.

‘Such a delegation would be complimentary to a mayor’s role under s226(d) of the LG Act ‘to exercise, in cases of necessity, the policy-making functions of the governing body of the council between meetings of the council’.

 


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7 COMMENTS

  1. I’d be a lot more convinced about this move if we had some examples of the types of issues or responses Mr James sees as pertinent in this current emergency. There is just not enough detail or justification offered for this rather drastic measure. A committee of 1 offers no filter and those reassuring parameters ‘necessary in the interests of the local community or the wider public’ are way too broad and open to interpretation.

    There is little difficulty in quickly and efficiently conducting ZOOM (or other platform) meetings in the event of some dramatic development,

  2. Hasn’t the Council heard of Zoom meetings?
    If an Extraordinary Meeting is required between normal council meetings, please use some common sense and get everyone together on Zoom – much better than giving the Mayor unnecessary powers.
    And by the way – how often have Extraordinary Meetings been called in the last five years?

  3. This is frightening and one must ask what could possibly be so urgent?
    Too much power in the hands of one person is always risky.

  4. But this is the man who doesn’t want to be Mayor. He recently gave an interview in which he said he’d rather be a good father than a good mayor.

    In a democracy you get the leadership you deserve and we deserve better.

  5. Liz. I agree with you. What sort of powers are we talking about? Council doesn’t have any authority except to issue parking fines. Ballina Council is being ridiculous dismantling and taping up seats at bus stops. People supporting local cafes and buying takeaway have nowhere to sit while their meal is being prepared – they are not intending to eat there. The Council has gone completely overboard.

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