Local Government Transparency Changes Underway in Freo

 

For those of you that didn’t catch this on ABC 1 news, Freo has joined up with Vincent, Bassendeen, Vic Park and other Perth Councils (as well as the Minister for Local Government)  to take steps towards making our councils more transparent and accountable. While the Local Government sector is already pretty good in this regard I think there are some steps we can take to make it even better. Thanks to John Carey for his leadership on this.

Freo will be looking at implementing an online gift register and donations register and other aspects next month too.

WA Government to set up website comparing councils’ performance

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-15/wa-government-to-set-up-website-comparing-councils-performance/7031838

Victorian council website Know your council screen shotPHOTO: The Victorian Government launched its Know your council website last month. (Supplied: Victorian Government)

The Western Australian Government plans to follow Victoria’s lead, by setting up a website allowing ratepayers to compare the best and worst performing councils.

Similar to the My School website, the Victorian Government’s website, launched last month, includes information on rates, council expenses and service delivery across a range of areas, including road construction and library costs.

WA Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said he hoped the move would improve transparency and accountability across the state’s 138 local governments.

Mr Simpson said it would start with basic details on council spending and rates but the plan was to expand it include details such as the time taken by each council for planning and building approvals.

“So we understand where our rates are going, how much we are spending on councillors, how much we’re spending on roads, how much we’re spending on libraries, so that money is quite clearly what they call transparency of where that money is going,” he said.

“I think most ratepayers want to know where their money is going, how their rates are being spent.

“Obviously from that I would love to grow that and talk to the Minister for Planning around how we can get some transparency around planning applications, building applications [and] I think that would be really good to actually show.

“What I’d really love to do is put a bit of competition back into local government so they can actually start playing off each other and showing who’s better than each other at delivering those services, which would be really good as well.”

The Government has already flagged plans to give the Auditor-General the powers to scrutinise the finances of all councils and Mr Simpson said Cabinet had already approved the drafting of legislation to enable that.

Perth mayors support Victorian model

A group of mayors from the Fremantle, Vincent, Victoria Park and Bassendean councils have joined forces to improve transparency in their sector and today they met with Mr Simpson to discuss the new measures.

All supported the Government adopting the Victorian model.

Vincent Mayor John Carey said at the core of democracy was ratepayers’ right to know and to access critical information on their council with ease.

“The sector has two choices, embrace change, or be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century … unfortunately I think it will be the latter,” he said.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said currently information was hard to find and ratepayers had to spend a lot of time digging through annual reports and other documents to get access to it.

“What this will do, is it will help both ratepayers understand where their council sits, and the councillors, and actually really help us as a sector get better,” he said.

“And I think that’s actually the real benefit of this, we get to almost learn off each other, compete with each other and become better performing organisations.”

Mr Simpson said details on each local government’s “financial sustainability score” would be made publicly available first, but he hoped the more comprehensive website to rate councils on other services they delivered across a range of areas would be running by mid-next year.

Topics: local-government, state-parliament, wa

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

4 Responses to Local Government Transparency Changes Underway in Freo

  1. Benjamin says:

    Interesting.

    Let’s see how transparent you are.

    – How on earth did Fremantle council approve the building at 62 Thompson Rd. It is a 25m long boundary wall which averages 6.7m high. As the southern neighbour I have had the front 25m of my block dominated by a 6.7m high monstrosity which overbears and overshadows our block in a low density, R25 zone.

    In the interests of transparency, could you explain why, despite the city recommending a refusal, the planning commitee voted 4-3 in favour where the chairman cast a deciding vote – for a plan which your own city planners said did not comply with the design principles.

    Tell me how when I sent you an independent report to verify that no less than 13 design principles had been ignored, less than 6 months later, the same council gave the owners of 62 further leniency by granting permission to decrease the quality of the wall finish, despite that being against the law – a new application is required.

    In the interests of transparency, why don’t you explain how the city and council circled the wagons despite knowing that they had broken the law in their decision making, knowing that my only means of recourse to protect my property was to go to the supreme court of WA which would cost me over $30k to defend my property.

    Can you confirm that you as a council neglected your duty to us as rate payers and home owners.

    • Ben
      Apologies for the delay in responding. You accusations against other individuals left me in a difficult position and I have decided after some thought to delete this part of your comments.
      As for the other parts
      The approvals for this in my view was an on balance decision and while you may not agree with it it was clearly a legal decision that the planning committee was able to make. I absolutely reject your claim that the committee broke the law.
      The wall question is one that was frustrating for everyone involved as with a bit of cooperation between parties a better outcome could have been achieved i believe.
      Overall I think the planning committee made a reasonable decision and I respect that you don’t agree with it but that does not make it unlawful
      regards, Brad

      • Benjamin says:

        Do you remember, after being fully aware of how distressed we were, lowering the standard of the wall from a brick/sand render, to a fibro-type material?

        Are you aware that the wall has actually been built over the boundary? Are you aware that you compliance person has agreed that it looks over the boundary but that, again, my only way forward is to spend $1000 on a surveyor and go to court. Because your council did not follow the rules, and allow the magistrates court to manage the boundary issues – rather you relaxed the conditions AGAIN so they could build it in a way where they can’t see what they are doing.

      • Ben
        I have edited your comment again as you make accusations against third parties.
        As I said above I think the wall issue could have had with better outcome with a cooperative approach. Unfortunately that was not able to happen.
        Brad

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