The finish to the year can only be described as disappointing, with the resignation of the GM followed by a No-Confidence motion in the Mayor at the November meeting when a fellow Councillor was absent. Neither of which is a good look to outside observers. Clearly there is disenchantment by both staff and Councillors.
One of the difficult aspects for the public to understand is that Councillors cannot get involved in operational matters. Councillors, through the policies they adopt, set the framework for staff to carry out operational duties. When work doesn’t get done or is done to a standard not regarded as acceptable, Councillors cannot get directly involved in ensuring the issue is addressed. We are left to make enquiries via the GM or at Council meetings. When problems persist, as they have in recent months, it boils over. If work isn’t getting done, then there needs to be accountability.
The merger of 3 councils and the problems of integrating the financial, operational and management systems whilst at the same time trying to develop a new LEP, budgets, new policies etc has been huge. At the same time, staff have had to manage around $30M of construction projects resulting from grants. It has been and will continue to be a mammoth job. Poor organisation or those who have fallen behind in their role have been found out in a way that didn’t happen when we were 3 smaller councils. It is fair to say that animosity has developed between various parties as a result.
The Christmas, New Year period will hopefully provide time for all to have a break and come back with renewed vigour. We have a very good team of directors in David Rowland, John Hughes and John Osland, who together have taken over the GM role until we fill the vacancy.
David Rowland is the Acting Planning Director. He has a wealth of experience in the area and has been working assiduously at getting the LEP and all the associated documents prepared for lodgement to the State Government mid-2020.
John Osland has been with Council now for about 6 months (perhaps longer) and is responsible for the engineering and technical services areas. Roads, footpaths, pools, parks etc. John has already done a significant amount of work trying to get the capital works programme streamlined so budgets and completion dates are achieved.
John Hughes has only been with Council for about 2-3 months and has a convoluted title but is essentially the Finance Director. John also brings to Council a wealth of experience and a keen understanding of the requirements to ensure we are accountable to ratepayers and the State Government.
All great but unless we work together nothing will get done. Council meetings should be a contest of ideas to ensure ratepayers are properly represented. I have no problem with vigorous debate which at times may get heated. The debate however needs to be about the issue NOT about the person.
Let’s hope 2020 provides better vision to both Councillors and staff alike. I wish all residents and ratepayers a very Merry Xmas and safe and prosperous New Year.
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