THE handling of confidential information was called into question by a Shellharbour City councillor at last week's meeting.
The Code of Meeting Practice adopted by council in January 2010 states that both open and closed council meetings were to be recorded.
Cr Peter Moran said it was "disturbing" to find that council recordings from confidential council meetings prior to September 17, 2013 could not be found and were "assumed deleted".
"I've been told by the GIPA (Government Information Public Access) officer and councillor liaison officer that, in fact, some meetings were not recorded, however we have also been told that apparently they were recorded," he said.
Cr Moran said that recordings for several meetings could not be located. These included confidential meetings on expression of interest for the Links Shell Cove, Shell Cove feasibility study, a Land and Environment case against council, funding strategy for the City Hub development, land surrounding Shell Cove Boat Harbour, Waterfront Shell Cove and a retail proposal for Australand at Shell Cove.
"These are matters were held in confidential session because the general manager assured councillors this was commercial in-confidence information that had to be protected, and yet it turns out that it is assumed it was deleted," Cr Moran said.
"We don't know when or by whom and we don't know if this information was in fact copied and used inappropriately because we have no records of it.
"I don't think it is appropriate that we have a situation where commercially sensitive information is just assumed to have had something happened to it. We should have a system in place where the use of confidential information is tightly controlled and tracked."
The Code of Meeting Practice at that time specified that all meetings be recorded and recordings kept for a minimum of three months.
A council staff member said there were two systems of recording in place, through DVD and web streaming. The DVDs are copied and then deleted to be recorded over again.
"There were various staff looking after the recordings and we have been advised by IT that is assumed what has happened is it was deleted and recorded over, because they had physically put in another disc to make another copy it."
A memo sent out to the mayor and councillors states "it is assumed that the full recording of the open and closed meeting was not kept because of space issues on the DVD recorder and the practise of deleting the DVD recordings when space capacity has been reached.
"All indications are that these meetings were in fact recorded, however, in keeping with clause 12.3.9 of the Code of Meeting Practice the recording was not kept."