Litchfield Council adopts new way of dealing with community concerns
The Litchfield Council has changed the way residents can ask questions at its meetings.
Locals will now be able to chat to councillors and staffers for 30 minutes prior to meetings instead of at the end.
Mayor Maree Bredhauer says it is the most practical way of handling community participation in Council affairs.
Councillor Bredhauer says residents can also submit written questions to Council in advance, allowing the council to provide a proper response.
The Council is encouraging residents to submit their questions five days prior to the meeting, but will accept them up until 12pm the day before.
Questions and answers formally submitted are then read out at the meeting and recorded in the minutes.
Discussion in the "open space forum" will not be record in the council minutes.
Councillor Bredhauer says the new approach will give residents better access to councillors and more opportunity to put their case forward.
The Council says it was problematic having questions from the community at the beginning and end of council meetings.
It says there is a risk of prejudicing proper debate when questions are asked during the presentation of reports and could hinder informed decision making.
Ordinary meetings remain open to the public for the purpose of "observation not participation," according to the minutes.
The Darwin and Palmerston councils follow the same approach of requesting questions in writing.