Stopped short

The silencing of Adelaide Hills Councillor Luke Ritchie in a regular council meeting last week by Mayor Bill Spragg was an interesting scenario, to say the least.
Cr Ritchie, reading from a prepared statement during last Tuesday’s council meeting at Houghton, was stopped soon after he began speaking by the Mayor who feared the councillor might be about to criticise the organisation.
Cr Ritchie only managed to say he felt the council had disengaged itself from a large section of the community before the Mayor stepped in and gagged him.
The Mayor, by his own admission, had no idea what Cr Ritchie was about to say or if it was actually against the code of conduct which forbids councillors from reflecting poorly on the council.
The Mayor’s call seemed premature. He must not shut down a councillor from speaking based on an assumption that what might be about to be said could be against the rules. He should have warned Cr Ritchie to be careful or waited until his suspicions were confirmed.
But to stop him in mid-stream on little more than a guess does not give the community confidence in the management of such meetings.
Cr Ritchie has added to the mystery by declining to elaborate on what he deemed on Tuesday night important enough to say in an open forum.