As of next week's ordinary council meeting in Guyra, Armidale Regional Council will no longer live-stream public forums and 'Have Your Say' presentations to the council.
After alterations to the Code of Meeting Practice policy (CoMP), important changes to the structure of council meetings were adopted at the March 24 Ordinary Council Meeting.
The most significant change will see public forums removed from the order of business and instead be held before the meeting at 3 pm. This includes invited presentations and Have Your Say.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Ian Tiley said the new format would provide a heightened experience for community members wanting to have input on council related issues.
"By moving the public forum to before the council meeting, it will allow for a format that is more comfortable and engaging and will allow for greater access to technology for presenters," said Cr Tiley.
"It is important the community is given a chance to have their say and get involved in matters affecting council and the region, so this change will make this process more effective."
Council will now hold a public forum prior to each council meeting to hear submissions from members of our community on items of business to be considered at the meeting (Have Your Say) and for invited presentations.
Previously this was at the beginning of the ordinary council meeting and was part of the live-stream broadcast.
In future, the public forum will not be webcast or recorded.
Armidale Regional Council general manager James Roncon said the CoMP policy should have been reviewed and initiated a few years ago.
"This was not done back in the day and was part of the performance improvement order from the Minister; that requirement was to update that CoMP," Mr Roncon said.
"The clear direction from the Office of Local Government as part of adopting a new CoMP was that the public forum session should be separated from the actual council meeting.
"Council meetings are of course required to be webcast, and this will continue, but given that that the two processes have been decoupled, the public forum will not be webcast."
Mr Roncon said records would be kept of those who speak, and the public can still attend the public forum should they wish.
Invited presentations will occur at 3 pm, and Have Your Say will take place at 3:30 pm on the day of the ordinary council meeting.
Requests to Have Your Say must be submitted by 12 pm the day before the meeting, must identify the item of business on the agenda, and whether the address is 'for' or 'against' the item.
Chair of the Armidale Regional Ratepayers Association, Richard Makim, said he does not think the lack of live-streaming of public forums is an issue.
"The whole thing was always designed to try and get the public better informed and give some sort of a feedback mechanism," Mr Makim said.
"The council has some responsibility to keep everyone informed, but they've also got responsibility for fairly busy people to get a bit of work done.
"There is a really fine line between taking good comment on board and serial whingers who just make a point of being against the government.
"I think if there are serious issues, and this is what you need your council to decide as this is what we voted them in there for, there should be a process that can explain to the public about what is going on.
"But if only one person is bouncing up and down about an issue there is a fairly high probability that it is not a serious issue.
"If they have enough people bouncing up and down, then it probably is, and we expect our mayor and councillors to be able to work that out."
Other changes to the CoMP include alterations surrounding workshops and councillor briefings.
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