It’s a shambles – Council meeting gets heated on GM issue

Ross Brown, left, at the protest in December outside the Kyogle Council Chambers with mayor Kylie Webster centre.

Susanna Freymark

There was no love lost between former mayor Ross Brown and Kyogle mayor Kylie Webster during the public forum at the council meeting today, July 8.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ms Webster announced that she was withdrawing the agenda item about interviewing three candidates for the general manager position.

Read about that here.

Despite the withdrawal, Mr Brown continued with his five-minute speech to councillors and staff at the chambers.

He said his question still related to where the council was at in the appointment of a permanent GM. Chris White is currently acting GM.

“At this point – council is nowhere,” Mr Brown said.

“It is a shambles – this council is shambolic.

“Is there a councillor that can say we are better off now than seven months ago after sacking the GM?”

Mr Brown asked about the cost of the process of hiring a new GM, including Brett Kelly, who left after seven weeks into the job and hiring Leading Edge employment agency to search for a new GM.

His solution? To use a locum from the NSW Office of Local Government list.

“This will put the council in a better position,” he said, especially given that the council goes into caretaker mode on August 16–September 13.

Outside council chambers in December last year.

Councillor Janet Wilson asked Mr Brown a question:

“Do you believe a locum would alleviate the stress and distress of staff who are feeling a lack of leadership and there are people who fear they will lose their jobs?”

“A locum would enable all current staff to go back to the jobs they were hired to do,” Mr Brown said.

“The community would feel more confident and involved and more listened to.”

After he’d finished, Ms Webster weighed in.

“For you to stand up here in a situation you have never been in before and to insult the current leadership is extremely rude, and I take offence to that,” she said.

Mr Brown said something intelligible and the mayor said, “Do not interrupt me.”

“Our current executive team are experienced. They have the knowledge.

‘The council is extremely well-led.

“On behalf of the staff, I will not have them criticised in this manner. We are well-led.”

Mr Brown responded.

“I’ve been in this position twice (when he was on Kyogle Council) and we sacked two GMs.

“We never behaved how this council has behaved.”

There were a few claps from the public gallery.

Ms Webster did not give a reason for withdrawing the discussion about interviewing candidates. believes the item was withdrawn from today’s agenda because two of the potential candidates had dropped out and only one remained.

The council has run out of time to appoint a new GM before the elections.

It’s looking like the new council –whoever is elected on September 14 – will decide who is GM.

It is an issue that has been contentious for most of this year and will remain so until there is a new permanent GM.

A summary of the rest of the meeting will be published shortly.

The full council agenda can be read here.

All Kyogle Council related stories are in one place here.

Protests outside council chambers in December last year. Video: Susanna Freymark

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