Bid to shift meetings from night into day

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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are being asked to change their briefing sessions from night to day and be held once a fortnight.

Briefings are now held three Mondays and one Tuesday a month starting at 5pm.

Cr Julie Morris says there are health benefits and cost savings by changing the meeting times and has asked her colleagues to trial her suggestion for a year from 4 May.

Cr Morris wants fortnightly briefings held between 9am and 5pm with a report after the first six months on “the productivity benefits and cost savings”.

In an email to her fellow councillors (sent at 8.24pm Wednesday 5 February) Cr Morris said her reasoning for holding daytime briefings “comes from a place of caring for others, thinking about the bigger picture and looking to reduce our outgoings and leading the way in new ways of doing things, that innovative thinking we all want to include in our day to day business”.

“I’m not in any way trying to exclude anyone, especially those who have a job, as I too have a job, but feel that fortnightly we can work together to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of our guests and officers,” Cr Morris, a senior constable stationed at Frankston, stated.

She said “several world-wide studies” had shown “shift workers (late evenings included) have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, insomnia, migraines, heart disease and mental health injuries”.

“Moving council briefings to business hours, may allow the council flexibility to reduce catering costs, from a three-course sit down evening meal, to light and healthy, refreshments, for guests, officers and councillors, during the day.”

The mayor Cr Sam Hearn told The News he saw Cr Morris’s move as “testing the appetite of council”.

He was “comfortable” with her approach, “a procedural question” that could be further explored.

“My overarching concern is the need for bright, qualified people on council,” Cr Hearn said.

The “key” to holding briefing times during the day would depend on whether it was easier or harder for councillors – or aspiring councillors – who were parents, self-employed or retired.

If successful, it will not be the first time Cr Morris has suggested changing meeting times. Soon after being elected in 2016 she managed to have the public council meetings moved from Monday nights to Tuesdays.

Cr Hearn said attending Monday night meetings had “definitely been a challenge for her” and switching nights had not been problematic for other councillors.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 11 February 2020

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