Council changes to prevent future fiascos

CHALLENGES to Newcastle City Council decisions will be fast-tracked in an attempt to prevent costly delays such as the Laman Street fiasco and recent city parking chaos.

Changes to the code of meeting practice, pushed by lord mayor Jeff McCloy, will "allow rescission motions to be considered by the council without delay".

The move has been approved unanimously by councillors and the public will have the opportunity to judge its effectiveness in the new year.

Under the current rules, a rescission motion cannot be put to a vote for at least 12 days after it is lodged.

The council recently rescinded its decision to allow two hours' free parking in the central business district over the Christmas period, but had to wait until 12 days after practical issues with the implementation of the trial became apparent.

Internal estimates put the lost income from parking meters and fines at about $15,000 a day during that period.

At the time Cr McCloy said the council had not properly looked into the matter and needed to re-consider with more information.

"I never thought I'd move a rescission motion in my life, but I think it was the wrong decision," he said.

The term "rescission motion" became a byword for indecision and delay during the Laman Street fig saga.

At a recent council meeting, general manager Phil Pearce said if a rescission motion was lodged on the same night as a council decision, staff were effectively prevented from taking any action until the rescission vote.

The proposed change should prevent rescission being used as a delaying tactic by allowing the motion to be reconsidered with just three days' notice.

Cr Tim Crakanthorp said the move would be a positive one for the council.

"It will save time and money," he said.

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