Breaking News: Wingecarribee Shire Council currently suspended, learn more.

Interim Administrator welcomes Hume Coal decision

September 3, 2021Posted in: Other

Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Interim Administrator Viv May has welcomed the state’s Independent Planning Commission’s decision to block plans for a new coal mine in Berrima.

“This is fabulous news for the Shire and of great relief to many residents,” he said.

Mr May said the decision came after more than a decade of community action.

“It’s been a marathon effort on behalf of all involved and I commend everyone for their grit and perseverance,” he said.

The Interim Administrator also acknowledged the advocacy undertaken by previous terms of Council.

“Council agrees with the findings from the whole-of-government assessment by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and is pleased the Independent Planning Commission has reached the same conclusion.”

The applicant, Hume Coal Pty Ltd, had sought planning approval to extract approximately 50 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal over 23 years from a new underground mine seven kilometres northwest of Moss Vale.  A rail loop line had also been earmarked for the site to enable transport of coal to Port Kembla.

Wingecarribee Shire Council had submitted a formal submission to the Independent Planning Commission opposing the proposal.

“Council fully agrees with the Independent Planning Commission’s statement that the benefits of the project do not outweigh the adverse environmental, social and economic impacts proposed,” Mr May said.

The Commission’s full Statement of Reasons for the decision is available at www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/projects/2021/06/hume-coal-project-and-berrima-rail-project-ssd-7172-and-ssd-7171-second-referral.

Interim Administrator calls Extraordinary Meeting

August 27, 2021Posted in:

Wingecarribee Shire Council will hold an Extraordinary Meeting on Monday 30 August 2021.

Council’s Interim Administrator Mr Viv May PSM has called the Extraordinary Meeting to deliver an additional community update and to consider other Council Business items.

The agenda for the Extraordinary Meeting can be found at www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/Council/Council-Meeting-Minutes-Agendas.

The meeting will be held from 3.30pm on Monday 30 August 2021.

Due to current Covid-19 restrictions the meeting will not be open to the public.  Residents can view the meeting via the live-stream on Council’s website at www.wsc.nsw.gov.au.

Interim Administrator releases bushfire report findings

July 28, 2021Posted in: Other

Interference amongst suspended councillors, lack of leadership and inexperience in dealing with large-scale disasters are some of the findings from a report into Council’s response to the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires.

Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Interim Administrator Viv May said the findings painted a sobering picture.

“Council’s response was clearly not good enough and the organisation could have served the community better,” he said.

Mr May conceded the size and scale of the bushfires were unprecedented and acknowledged that Council was not the lead combat agency.

“However, this report demonstrates that Council and Local Government in general need to acknowledge that they are still the first and most important port of call for their respective communities,” he said. “We have to better develop our skills in responding to and recovering from such natural disasters.”

The report found that Council’s Executive team did not have a solid understanding of emergency management.

“Emergency Management Plans either lacked content or were non-existent in places,” Mr May said.

The Interim Administrator was even more scathing of the involvement of suspended councillors.

“Even during the height of the bushfires some councillors seemed hell-bent on petty political point-scoring,” he said.

“Instead of working cohesively together for the betterment of the community, several councillors continued their in-fighting and personal attacks in the press and public.

“It’s then not unsurprising that the report found that leadership was at times hindered due to the strained relationship between councillors and senior management.”

The report found incidents where communication was hampered by several councillors offering assistance and making decisions on behalf of Council when they had no authority to do so.

“It’s important to acknowledge that this report is not all critical,” Mr May added. “Indeed, many Council staff went above and beyond and should be rightfully acknowledged for their efforts.”

“This is particularly commendable considering most staff did not have any formal emergency management, mental health or empathy training to help deal with such a crisis.”

“The report concludes that several factors contributed to Council’s lack of direction both during and after the bush fires,” Mr May said. “It’s therefore imperative that Council and the broader community learn from these findings to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated.”

“It’s inevitable that natural disasters will continue to impact the Shire in years to come and only if Council and the community work together will community resilience be improved.”

The report makes a total of 44 Recommendations which are to be forwarded to the General Manager for formal response.

“I will be recommending that an external person or new senior staff member take carriage of these Recommendations as some may warrant further interrogation,” Mr May said. “Because if the suspended Council were returned I doubt they would have the capacity to deal with the matter either professionally or compassionately.”

The independent review into the 2019/20 bushfires was undertaken by Mr Dave Owens from Risk-e Business Consultants. Mr Owens is a former Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Force and was formerly involved in the NSW Government’s Independent Bushfire Inquiry.

“In closing I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this review and on behalf of Council I thank Mr Owens for shining a light on these horrific bushfires.”

Interim Administrator responds to postponement of local government elections

July 27, 2021Posted in: Other

Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Interim Administrator Viv May has today responded to the announcement that local government elections across NSW, including Wingecarribee Shire, will be postponed until 4 December 2021.

“Whether the Council stays in administration is ultimately a decision for the Minister for Local Government,” he said.

“I have previously stated that the Council failed the Highlands community and is not worthy of public office.”

Mr May said he was speaking following calls from concerned residents about the possibility of suspended councillors returning to office on 11 September.

“Councils should not be run by perceived entitlement, egos and personalities,” he said.

Mr May said further independent reports would be tabled at Wednesday evening’s Ordinary Meeting of Council.

“Tomorrow evening I will be presenting reviews including Council’s response to the Black Summer bushfires and a further update on development matters,” he said.

“I will also present an audit of former senior staff’s petty cash expenditure and procurement processes undertaken at Council’s Southern Highlands Welcome Centre and a review of compliance and statutory obligations at the Wingecarribee Animal Shelter.”

“The community deserve better and I’ll allow them to make up their own mind once the evidence is presented.”

Interim Administrator calls Extraordinary Meeting

July 21, 2021Posted in:

Wingecarribee Shire Council will hold an Extraordinary Meeting on Wednesday 28 July 2021.

Council’s Interim Administrator Mr Viv May PSM has called the Extraordinary Meeting to deliver an additional community update and to consider other Council Business items.

The agenda for the Extraordinary Meeting can be found at www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/Council/Council-Meeting-Minutes-Agendas.

The meeting will be held from 3.30 pm on Wednesday 28 July 2021 in the Moss Vale Council Chambers and live-streamed via Council’s website at www.wsc.nsw.gov.au.