WANGARATTA Council has embarked on a six-month trial to allow community members to ask more questions at monthly meetings.
Council administrators agreed to the ground-breaking trial which permits gallery members to ask questions before an agenda item is discussed and a vote taken.
Former councillor Jul-ian Fidge, who attended his first meeting this week since the former council’s dismissal last September, has applauded the move.
“The administrators actively encourage community participation at meetings by calling for community questions on each agenda item now, before a vote is taken, in stark contrast to the ‘like it or lump it’ attitude of former councils,” he said.
“General questions at the end of the meeting were taken by the administrators until all of the community’s questions had been asked.
“There were no limits imposed by the administrators on questions, in contrast to the two question limit set by previous councils no matter how important the questions.
“Questions were answered with courtesy and respect by both administrators and council officers.
“Council officers in the gallery also helped by providing more detail when required.
“I encourage everyone to attend council meetings when they can and actively participate.
“Anyone who would like to serve on council in the future should attend to see how council meetings should be run.”
Dr Fidge said he tried to implement something similar in his short stint as a councillor, but failed.
The report considered by administrators Ailsa Fox, Irene Grant and Rodney Roscholler was prepared by recently appointed corporate services director Ruth Kneebone.
“The outcomes of this proposal are positive for the sustainability of the local community,” she said.
“The proposal provides for an expansion of public question time which allows the community to participate in public life.
“The matter relates to the efficient operation of the council and will improve engagement.”