GRIFFITH residents will be guaranteed an audience with a councillor under a proposal to be discussed at council tomorrow night.
Councillor Bill Lancaster has recommended a “duty officer” scheme where one councillor is available to the community at all times on a roster basis.
The scheme would allow residents to present their issues and ideas in a one-on-one setting instead of speaking in front of the whole council at a public meeting.
Cr Lancaster said it would also give council some much-needed transparency and accountability.
“Residents’ belief that their wishes are not sought or taken into account by council when making decisions has been identified as a cause for discontent and lack of confidence with the council,” Cr Lancaster said.
“The introduction of a duty councillor scheme will address these concerns ... as well as indicate councillors’ commitment to their obligations to represent residents’ views.
“(It will) also provide an assurance that a councillor is available at short notice to address their petition or query.”
Cr Lancaster has recommended each councillor be rostered for a period of one month per year.
Each issue would be dealt with as a referral to the general manager, a Notice of Motion to the next council meeting or entered into council’s database to be dealt with by staff.
The duty councillor would be given access to an office, which is likely to be set up inside one of council’s facilities.
But not all councillors were convinced the scheme was the right approach to improving dialogue between council and the community.
“I like to think I’m on duty all the time,” Cr Simon Croce said.
“I’m not saying the idea doesn’t have merit and I’m happy to discuss it, but I think people would prefer to choose the councillor they can relate to most to discuss their issues with.”
Cr Leon Thorpe said speaking to a councillor was “a bit like going to the family doctor” in that people were particular about who they spoke to.
“Griffith is not a really large city so many people will know one or two councillors and will bring their problems to them,” Cr Thorpe said.
“They don’t just want to talk to someone from council, they want to talk to the appropriate person.”