IT is a case of déjà vu for regular speakers at Bathurst Regional Council public forums, who are once again facing the prospect of having less time to get their point across.
Council has put a draft version of its Code of Meeting Practice on public exhibition, which sets out the procedure for the running of its meetings.
In it, council has proposed to reduce the time for individuals addressing council at public forum from four minutes down to three.
Speakers would receive a warning bell at two minutes to let them know their time is almost up.
Councillors have the option to grant an additional minute of speaking time.
It's not the first time council has attempted to cut down speaking time at public forum, with the time reduced from five minutes to four minutes in 2019.
And regular speakers are furious.
Kent and Dianne McNab, who used the public forum to advocate for a roundabout in West Bathurst, said the proposal is undemocratic.
"This is an attack on democracy by the Bathurst Regional Council. They are trying to whittle down our speaking time from four minutes to three minutes, and trying to make out we have one more additional minute," Mr McNab said, adding that he and his wife were rarely given an extension.
After seeing the draft Code of Meeting Practice, Mr and Mrs McNab got in contact with others in the community who frequent the public forum.
They are encouraging people to make a submission on the draft document.
"This is not for us, this is for the people of Bathurst now," Mr McNab said.
Disability advocate Bob Triming is also frustrated by the plans to reduce the time.
Mr Triming is present at almost every council meeting and regular raises issues, or passes on thanks to council staff, during public forum.
He has called the plans a "ridiculous proposal" and said that he is "in total opposition" to having just three minutes to address the council.
"I, and many others, opposed this in 2019 when a similar move was made," he said.
"Back then I raised the issue that some of us regular attendees have several matters to raise with council and three minutes is simply inadequate."
Both he and the McNabs were also concerned that there was no discussion of the Code of Meeting Practice by councillors at the meeting on January 19.
Council's general manager David Sherley told the Western Advocate that council staff proposed to change the time to three minutes based on what has been seen in previous years.
"It was considered that three minutes generally is sufficient for people to address the council," he said.
"Where a person may need to spend more time, then it is up to the councillors to agree to an extension, which they can easily do."
Residents can have their say on the document while it is on public exhibition. The document is expected to come to council for adoption in March or April.
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