Meeting for local council erupts into power brawl

Meeting for local council erupts into power brawl

A meeting of the Belconnen Community Council to discuss embattled riding organisation Pegasus descended into a brawl over the ongoing struggle for control of the council.

Council webmaster Darryl Seto quit at Tuesday's meeting, while others stormed out after a feud over the scheduling of a second annual general meeting and a spill of the executive positions.

The ACT's Office of Regulatory Services recommended the council redo last year's allegedly stacked general meeting and has suggested the warring parties go to mediation.

Former Canberra Liberals candidate Matthew Watts won the presidency of the council in September in a meeting that predecessor Shirley Gourgaud and supporters claimed was stacked.

Ms Gourgaud was later reinstated.


Mr Watts and his supporters lodged a requisition for a special meeting of the council and on Tuesday asked the membership to set an agenda that included declaring vacant all executive committee positions.

The council's officer Brian Rhynehart said a heated argument ensued resulting in one member, Mr Seto, quitting the council. Others also walked out on a meeting that was called to consider ways the council could assist the riding for the disabled organisation Pegasus.

Posts on the council's Facebook page after the meeting include accusations of ''threats of violence'' and tirades ''of personal abuse''.

''The meeting was supposed to be about Pegasus and their case for additional funding from the government and from business or private persons,'' Mr Rhynehart said.

''Certain people who want to take over the council … They wanted to discuss an AGM which was not ordered by the ORS, it was recommended.

''If you request any type of business - under meeting principles that I've been exposed to - you might get to request a topic, you don't get to write an agenda for it.''

Mr Rhynehart said Tuesday's meeting was a ''fiasco'' and described the behaviour of some council members as ''overbearing'' and ''loutish''.

But he said an AGM was likely to go ahead in April and a new leadership committee would be elected.

''There probably will be an AGM, possibly in April, but not until I am satisfied that all steps have been taken to ensure that there are no more ambushes, no late nominations, all nominations will be in by a certain time and absolutely no chance of the meeting being stacked,'' he said.

Mr Watts and Ms Gourgaud could not be reached for comment.

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