There is no doubt that the August 2018 Lane Cove Council Meeting was a fiery affair with members of the public expressing their disappointment about planning decisions and the removal of three stately fig trees in Greenwich.
At one stage the Lane Cove Council General Manager, Mr Craig Wrightson, stood up and said that if the personal attacks by the speakers did not stop he and his staff would walk out of the meeting.
After the meeting ITC spoke to several members of the public gallery and, no-one could pinpoint a personal attack on a member of the Lane Cove Council or a Lane Cove Council employee.
The Lane Cove Council instructed solicitors to issue a letter to two members of the public alleging that they had made defamatory statements and they had 2 days to respond to the letter. One of these letters allege that a Lane Cove Council employee was defamed.
ITC spoke to several Lane Cove Councillors today and they advised that they were not aware that solicitors had been instructed to issue letters. It seems extraordinary that legal letters can be issued (at ratepayer’s costs) without all Lane Cove Councillors being informed that this step was being taken.
Members of the public are allowed to address Lane Cove Council meeting for three minutes on any item they would like to raise. Members of the public do appreciate this opportunity. In other northern Sydney council areas members are only allowed to address their council on a particular Agenda item if they register to speak before 5pm on the day of the meeting. Addressing Council is permitted only on Agenda items. ITC has heard on the grapevine that this system could be implemented in Lane Cove. ITC argues that as the Lane Cove Council agenda includes the Lane Cove Council snapshot which includes council matters such as planning, parking fines, heath inspections, council operations and more. Therefore, you can pretty much speak on any topic in the snapshot. The Lane Cove Council snapshot is an agenda item.
Is it an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money to instruct solicitors to issue letters alleging defamation? If you are in the public eye or work for an organisation that is in the public eye you need to be aware that you will be subject to criticism. What do you think?
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