ISSUES have arisen from the District Council of Ceduna regarding the amount of questions on notice put in by one of its councillors.
Tension has increased over the past few months over councillor Peter Codrington’s many questions on notice addressed at Ceduna Council meetings.
Council minutes show Mr Codrington has asked around 103 questions on notice since 2010, including 29 so far from 2012.
Mr Codrington said he used the questions on notice so the community could find out themselves about issues within the Council.
“I get a number of people in the community who have an interest in certain things within the Council, I do talk to the staff about it but with Questions on Notice, it goes in the minutes people can see the answers themselves,” he said.
“I want those answers around the community so people can understand processes of Local Government and may be able to satisfy their concerns on local issues, rather than relying on gossip or rumour.”
But many within the Council have taken issue with the amount of questions, and the kind of questions Mr Codrington has been asking.
Ceduna Mayor Allan Suter said Questions on Notice should only be used as a last resort.
“What Questions on Notice were designed to do was when a councillor has gone to the staff with their question and feel they haven’t received a satisfying answer, they put in a written request with a detailed response, which goes in the minutes,” he said.
“Questions on Notice cost money to answer, it requires staff to drop what they’re doing to put it to paper, it can require legal advice as all information has to be triple checked before it is put into the minutes.”
From the March 2012 minutes, an estimate provided by former Council CEO Trevor Smart showed a cost of $9000 from providing responses, which could be doubled to $18,000 due to ‘what could be viewed as unproductive staff time spent on researching information.’
But Mr Codrington said he doesn’t believe this figure is true.
“I don’t believe this figure provided, most of what I ask doesn’t take two weeks to research and answer,” he said.
“There’s nothing in the Local Government Act which says 5 or 500 Questions on Notice are bad, and a satisfying answer can put Council in a good light,” he said.
“I have every right to ask questions the way I do, and I feel the perceptions of these being personal attacks are incorrect, Mr Suter is taking it all the wrong way.”
Mr Suter said Mr Codrington is within his right to ask Questions on Notice, but should seek to get his answers from the right channels.
“Councillor Codrington is within his right to ask Questions on Notice, but most only use it as a last resort, I wouldn’t dream of using them unless I failed to get an answer from the right channels,” he said.
“Some in the Council has seen his efforts as mischievous and time wasting, and it appears to show Council in a very poor light, when Council is functioning very well.”