Greens call Kimberley council’s ‘secret’ meeting a ‘Crisis in democracy’

Kimberley Town Council has been warned that if it does not hold meetings transparently it can expect a public protest.

Green Party councillor Kat Boettge told the Advertiser of her concern that a meeting is soon to be held for the council in private, without the public being invited to attend.

She said she has conveyed her concerns to the council clerk but to no avail and now threatens to hold a public protest outside the meeting, due to take place at 7pm on Thursday, January 22.

Cllr Boettge said: “The meeting is not on their website and they have not invited the public to attend.

“In their standing orders they are only able to have a meeting behind closed doors if they publicise why the public is not invited.”

The news coincides with Democracy Day, amid widespread discussion about the values and processes of a democratic society across the media in the build up to the next General Election.

In light of this Ms Boettge finds it ironic that the council would choose this week to “betray their responsibilities as a democratic institution.”

She added: “It is wholly important for local government to conduct their business in an open, honest and transparent way if we are to have accountable politicians.

“Giving the public the option to attend meetings on the processes of local government is central to that.

“It’s a crisis of democracy on democracy day,” she added.

Ms Boettge has previously criticised the council as “undemocratic”, and left the council last year in reaction to how it was run - only to be re-elected in a by-election.

Council chairman Dr David Nunn confirmed that such a meeting is planned, but said the public can’t expect to be invited to every meeting the council holds.

He added: “It’s a business meeting for the councillors.

“It’s not a closed meeting, it’s just to discuss the finer points of the accounts prior to the budget meeting.

“You wouldn’t be able to walk into your bank and demand to attend a meeting would you?”

Ms Boettge responded: “Banks have no democratic responsibilities and the bank is not elected by constituents. This is a completely bazaar comparison to make.

She claims she was told that there was no reason for public attendance as there was no vote to be passed.

“But even still, if there is no decision being made, there must still be a resolution with full explanation for why the meeting needs to be confidential. This should be especially true for accounts.”

He chose not to respond to Cllr Beottge’s intentions to protest before the meeting.