Secret meetings deemed normal

DECISIONS aren't needlessly being made behind closed doors and Southern Downs Regional Council special meetings are necessary, chief executive Rod Ferguson told the Daily News.

Council observers have noticed an increase in the number of special meetings taking place in the chambers in recent months, which are now happening twice monthly.

Mr Ferguson said as far back as he can remember since amalgamation, council has conducted a special meeting at least once a month.

He said it was an opportunity for councillors to talk about more strategic issues than day-to-day things, saying a good example was the food security plan, which was not in its complete form when it first came before councillors.

"Until it's ready to be adopted, it's not something we want people to have access to," he said.

"It's an opportunity for councillors to have open discussions without the concern about comments being re-laid."

Previously recommendations from such meetings weren't made available on the council website until the Daily News queried this and they are now on display.

Mr Ferguson said some topics were discussed behind closed doors for a number of reasons, including discussions that revolved around individuals and their properties or businesses.

He said whether items were discussed in camera was a council decision but he could advise about whether it ought be confidential. Legally all council voting must be done publicly.

Notably, presentations and discussions on Stanthorpe urban water have all been held behind closed doors.

Mr Ferguson said it was his understanding this has always been the case, even before amalgamation.



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