I wish to respond to statements made by the Friends of Wingecarribee in a press release issued by the group earlier this month.
The continued worsening behaviour of councillors is of great concern to me. It should also concern all residents of our Shire.
The deteriorating behavior of councillors is a distraction to the business at hand at Council. Residents continue to hear of the unruly behaviour of a small number of councillors instead of reading of the many fine achievements that continue to be met by the organisation. Their actions are placing unnecessary stress on staff, management and other councillors.
It is for these reasons I approached the Office of Local Government and why I support their intervention. I look forward to the arrival of the two advisors and welcome their mediation.
I have attempted to contact the Friends of Wingecarribee in the hope to meet and hear their concerns first hand. Unfortunately, both the Friends and Berrima Residents Association have declined my offer.
Should we meet I would reiterate to the group that the Performance Improvement Order issued by the Office of Local Government is focused on the behaviour of Councillors. It originates from claims of bullying and intimidation by certain councillors. The Performance Improvement Order does not concern the work ethic or behaviour of Council staff.
I would also point out that Council is in a strong financial position and has a huge capital infrastructure program which is to be implemented in the coming years. Council’s finances are prudently managed and openly available for inspection via our Annual Report and regular Finance Committee reports. Council’s management of finances was critical to our Shire receiving ‘Fit for the Future’ status from the State Government. The NSW Audit Office has not raised any concerns with our management of finances or public monies. To suggest any financial impropriety is ill-informed.
I would also explain that as per the NSW Local Government Act 1993, the position of the General Manager must be appointed within 12 months of the initial vacancy. Their request to have the position remain vacant until September 2021 would be unlawful.
Until the position of General Manager is permanently filled however, I will continue to give my full support to the Acting General Manager, Mr Barry Paull. I urge all councillors to do the same.
On a more positive note, myself and senior staff of Council recently met with the Wingello Village Association to discuss various concerns and priorities they held for their village. The meeting was most constructive and I would invite representatives from other village associations that signed the letter to do similar.
In closing I would again invite representatives of Friends of Wingecarribee to take up my offer and meet to discuss any concerns.
My door remains open.
To view the reasons for the Performance Improvement Order and subsequent actions requested as detailed by the NSW Office of Local Government, visit www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/uploads/3939/wingecarribee-performance-improvement-order.pdf.