Mock council meeting over chamber seats

Before they sit down to address the issues of the city, Newcastle’s new councillors have had to solve a disagreement about where they will sit.

At a ‘‘mock’’ council meeting last week, councillors stood divided on whether the chamber’s seats should be arranged according to the city’s ward representatives, or based on political groupings.

Labor councillors wanted to sit together and argued that being separated would potentially require recesses to allow them to discuss unexpected motions or amendments.

 Lord mayor Jeff McCloy and his supporters argued for a City Hall seating arrangement based on the four wards.

After a few rounds of musical chairs, the Labor councillors conceded.

Cr McCloy said he was positive about the prospects of the new council and that the seating issue ‘‘was solved in a nice and humorous way’’.

‘‘It’s important that we all work together,’’ he said.

The seating arrangements were apparently discussed at an informal meeting of councillors last month that most Labor councillors were unable to attend.

Cr Nuatali Nelmes said her colleagues had spent too much time ‘‘worrying about where the Labor Party is going to sit, to the point of holding secret meetings’’.

After two terms where perceived dysfunction and indecision  overshadowed other aspects of the city’s government, the working relationship between the  councillors will be  in the spotlight.

The first meeting tomorrow  night will include an election for deputy mayor, with Labor and the Liberals  expected to provide  viable candidates.

It will debate  the gifting of childcare centres to community operators. 

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