'Loud, farcical' council meeting

Previous general manager of Bega Valley Shire Council and regular speaker at council meetings, David Jesson, has raised several questions over meeting procedures and costs relating to a code of conduct matter.

At the council meeting on February 20, councillors went into closed session to discuss what is now understood to be two code of conduct matters.

In a public presentation at last week's council meeting, March 13, Mr Jesson referred to the closed session.

On three or four occasions I heard loud shouting between councillors coming from the meeting room.

David Jesson

"I was in the area outside. On three or four occasions I heard loud shouting between councillors coming from the meeting room. I heard you Madam Mayor on a number of occasions call for order in a loud voice and I believe I heard the use of the gavel," Mr Jesson said, adding he wasn't eavesdropping but could not help but hear.

"Quite plainly what I heard was a meeting which had descended into farce and was clearly out of order, unedifying from the council's perspective," Mr Jesson told the meeting.

He went on to pose the question as to the cost to ratepayers of the two code of conduct matters considered in the closed session meeting held on February 20.

"I understand that the answer is known to councillors and involves some tens of thousands of dollars and all of this when the two matters were 'noted'," he said.

"That's about $15,000 per 'note'," he added.

Quite plainly what I heard was a meeting which had descended into farce and was clearly out of order, unedifying from the council's perspective.

David Jesson

Mr Jesson's comments imply the two code of conduct matters have cost council $30,000 and that the figure is known to councillors.

Details of matters raised and discussed in confidential sessions are by their nature kept confidential unless councillors agree to release information through declassifying the report.

When Mr Jesson made his comments, a report on the code of conduct matters had not been declassified, raising the question of how he could speak with such surety. 

Council was asked whether information had been provided by a councillor or staff member.

"Costs of Code of Conduct matters are reported on an annual basis to the Office of Local Government and are released as a total amount for the reporting period 1 September to 30 August each year. Council will not be releasing the individual costs publicly and has no knowledge of the basis for Mr Jesson's public comments," a council spokeswoman said.

However Mr Jesson confirmed that the information had been supplied by "several councillors".

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