WRAP - No prison in Westbury
WRAP media release - 11 June 2021

WRAP submits second petition to compel Council to hold public meeting

On Monday 7th June, WRAP presented a petition seeking to compel the Meander Valley Council to hold a public meeting on the Northern Regional Prison. Under section 59 of the Local Government Act 1993, the Council has no choice but to hold a public meeting if 5% of the electors in its municipality sign a petition calling on it to do so.

"This provision has clearly been inserted in the Act to allow ratepayers to compel a Council to face its community on important issues in a public forum if Council has not done so voluntarily. Ideally, ratepayers shouldn't need to resort to this step, because any well-functioning Council would consult, involve and be accountable to its ratepayers as required by section 20 of the Act.

Unfortunately, our Council has never involved or consulted its community on this project. It has also refused to hold a public meeting despite our repeated requests. We had no choice but to try to compel a meeting in this way" said Linda Poulton.

In June last year, WRAP submitted petition to the Council which contained over 700 signatures seeking to compel a meeting, but the Council dismissed the petition for alleged technical non-compliance with the legislation. "Accordingly, we had no choice but to go back out to our community and ask them to go through this process again," said Anne-Marie Loader, who presented the second petition to the General Manager on Monday.

Despite the frustration, our community has answered this call for a second time. This issue has not fallen away and hundreds in the municipality want their Council to consult and involve them in relation to this controversial project.

I am really excited to have presented this petition, because I know that it's compliant. It contains 999 signatures on its face, but anomalies do inevitably and inadvertently creep in. For this reason, many hours were spent checking the signatures against the electoral roll and I have confirmed it has been signed by 5% of electors in the municipality. Council will finally be compelled to hold the meeting we have been wanting for so long.

It's such a pity this had to occur by compulsion, but we are nevertheless really excited about the prospect of the public meeting and intend to accept the General Manager's offer made on Monday to meet and discuss how and when this might take place." Mrs Loader said.

Linda Poulton
Spokesperson & Vice-President, WRAP Inc


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