A public inquiry will be held in to “serious issues” plaguing a NSW council.
NSW local government minister Shelley Hancock on Wednesnday announced the inquiry into Wingecarribee Shire Council in the state’s Southern Highlands.
“Wingecarribee Shire Council’s performance is being seriously hampered by a range of financial, legal, cultural, structural, reputational and governance issues which are of great concern to the local community,” Mrs Hancock said.
The decision follows a recommendation by Council’s interim administrator Viv May, and was necessary to restore community confidence, the minister said.
The inquiry will investigate:
- Whether members of Council’s governing body fully understand their roles and carried them out properly
- Whether councilllors improperly interfered in operational matters
- Whether Council’s governing body is in a position to direct and control the affairs of Council in accordance with the Local Government Act
Ms Hancock suspended council in March citing a worsening breakdown of relationships between councillors and senior staff.
On Wednesday she also reappointed Mr May to his position and deferred the election scheduled for December 4 until the inquiry is completed.
Barrister Ross Glover, who was Counsel Assisting during the recent Blue Mountains City Council inquiry https://www.governmentnews.com.au/council-an-exemplar-of-asbestos-management/, will conduct the Wingecarreibbee inquiry and present the minister with a report.
Council will remain suspended for a period no longer than 30 days after the report is handed down.
News directors appointed
Mr May welcomed the decision, saying the voice of the community had been heard.
“Credit for the Minister’s decision must go to the many residents who worked tirelessly to expose the perceived failures of both the elected body and former executive and the arrogance of some who did not follow their clearly stated guiding principles and responsibilities in relation to exercise of functions generally, decision making and community participation,” he said in a statement.
He said the rebuildling of Wingecarribee Shire Council was well underway and the public inquiry would add value to the process.
The announcement comes after General Manager Lisa Miscamble on Monday announced the appointment of three directors as part of the new council structure adopted in July.
They are Geoff King (Director Communities and Place), Carmel Foster (Corporate Strategy and Resourcing) and Karin Targa (Director Service Delivery and Projects).
Mr King previously led the City Strategy Unit at Parramatta and Ms Foster was Corporate Services Group Manager at Port Stephens Council. Ms Targa has held serval local government roles including most recently at roles Bayside where she was City Projects Director and Director of City Operations.
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