This afternoon Council will hold an Extraordinary Meeting to consider the Notice from the Hon Shelley Hancock MP Minister for Local Government to suspend Wingecarribee Shire Council and appoint an interim administrator.
While the correspondence suggests an interim period of three months, the Minister could extend the suspension for an additional three months. A six-month suspension would mean the current Council would not return before the next local government election.
It is extremely disappointing that it has come to this and in my opinion, it is the deliberate attempt by a minority of councillors to disrupt the running of Council and bring the organisation into disrepute.
For over a year the actions of the these councillors have deteriorated and the Minister’s request for order via a Performance Improvement Order have been largely ignored.
The Minister rightly highlighted her concerns of harassing and bullying behaviour towards Council staff as a major factor for the possible suspension order. Minister Hancock said concerns had been raised by both councillors and staff about the impact of these behaviours on the health and well-being of staff at Council. Former General Manager Ann Prendergast’s departure is in my opinion, a prime example of this continued harassment.
Whether in public or behind closed doors, bullying and harassment is never acceptable.
The Office of Local Government is in receipt of numerous threatening and offensive emails and correspondence. I have seen first-hand the effects that these behaviours have had on staff and it cannot be allowed to continue.
I commend all the staff of Council for their continued efforts during these difficult circumstances.
For several months Councillor Scandrett has called for the current cohort of councillors to be ‘sacked’ to allow a ‘new gene pool’ to be instated. This is all well and good to publicly advocate yet Councillor Scandrett has already nominated for September’s forthcoming Local Government Elections. The hypocrisy is palpable.
Should Council be suspended, even for six months, under the current guidelines all councillors will be free to re-stand at September’s Local Government Elections.
Today’s meeting will determine what course of action Council will endorse, however it is clear the majority of councillors are unhappy with two dysfunctional councillors.
Our community has had enough of the bickering. The cost alone of this disruption is at least $600,000 and counting.
For the sake of our Shire I call for Councillor Scandrett and Councillor Turland to resign from Council immediately.