Willow Court meeting abandonded

TODAY’S long-awaited annual general meeting of the Willow Court Redevelopment Committee was abandoned after insufficient committee members turned up – suggesting that calling the meeting at such short notice was not a good idea.

Four members of the public and a representative of the local press waited for 30 minutes before Derwent Valley mayor and committee chairman Tony Nicholson declared that the meeting would have to be abandoned. The lack of a quorum was complicated by the committee’s interpretation of its own terms of reference, with project officer Ian Brown stating that some committee members could be appointed pro tem but others could not. Mr Brown acknowledged that the term – which means “for the time being” – did not feature in the committee’s terms of reference but was a “standard procedure” at annual meetings.

Conflicting opinions on the interpretation of council policies and Local Government Meeting Procedure Regulations were discussed after the mayor declared it would be up to the Derwent Valley Council to set a new date for the meeting. From the public gallery, stickler-for-the-rules Damian Bester asked the mayor to set a new date then and there, suggesting that the meeting reconvene seven days hence – which would enable to meeting to be held in April as required by council policies. After much toing-and-froing Cr Nicholson said the “qualified advice” of council solicitor James Crotty was that in the event the meeting was abandoned, it must report the circumstances to the council and request a new date be set.

A similar fate befell attempts by Mr Bester and Ngaire Glover to have the rescheduled meeting held after 5pm as required by Local Government Regulations. At one point project officer Ian Brown remarked that if Mrs Glover would allow him to answer unimpeded, she would be able to take down his answer word-for-word. Mrs Glover said she was actually addressing the committee (not the project officer).

Mr Bester asked whether a question-and-answer session could be held among the people present but Cr Nicholson said this was not appropriate.

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