Whittlesea council has been revealed as one of Melbourne’s most secretive councils for the second year in a row, with more than one quarter of its decisions made behind closed doors.
Neighbouring Hume council is close behind with one fifth of its decisions made in-confidence.
Data published on the state government’s Know Your Council website revealed Melbourne City, Whittlesea and Hume councils as the top three most secretive councils in Melbourne.
Whittlesea made 26.95 per cent of decisions in 2016-17 at meetings shut off to the public. At Hume, 20.9 per cent of decisions were closed to the community.
Melbourne City Council had 28.85 per cent of its decisions made in secret.
The state average was 9.45 per cent – down from 11 per cent in 2015-16.
Whittlesea partnerships and engagement director Liana Thompson said the council had recently changed its criteria for determining which contracts would be considered in confidence, resulting in a reduction in closed door decisions.
In 2015-16, the council made 38 per cent of its decisions in confidential sections of council meetings.
Ms Thompson said the council expected the number of confidential decisions to continue to decrease.
“Being a fast-growing municipality, the City of Whittlesea approved many contracts for services and building works. These matters have traditionally been dealt with in the closed part of the council meeting,” she said.
“We will continue to refine our policy to ensure a greater number of decisions are made in the section of the council meeting open to the public.”
Hume council chief executive Domenic Isola said the council tried to make decisions at open meetings wherever possible, but considered issues such as personal hardship of a resident, legal advice, contractual matters, and matters affecting the security of council property as confidential
“The agenda … always describes matters to be considered in the closed meeting and identifies why each matter needs to be considered in the closed meeting,” he said.