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Northern Rivers Local News

Council split emerges over acting GM appointment

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General Manager Ashley Lindsay

Council split emerges over acting GM appointment

By Tim Howard

The newly appointed acting general manager of Clarence Valley Council, Laura Black, finds herself under siege from day one of her appointment.
Last week Mayor Jim Simmons dropped three mayoral minutes to deal with the imminent retirement of general manager Ashley Lindsay.
All created intense debate, but the one recommending director corporate and governance Laura Black replace Mr Ashley Lindsay in late November revealed a split in councillors’ views.
Mr Lindsay and council have agreed on exit strategy allowing Mr Lindsay to take leave from November 26 until his retirement date on October 7, 2022.
Councillors voted 5-4 to approve his recommendation of Ms Black but appear to have set a time bomb ticking during her appointment.
The five councillors who voted for her appointment: Crs Simmons, Jason Kingsley, Richie Williamson, Andrew Baker and Arthur Lysaught have said they won’t stand at the next election.
The four councillors up for re-election – Crs Peter Ellem, Debrah Novak, Greg Clancy and Karen Toms – all supported council finding a locum GM until a permanent replacement was found.
The mayor’s minute survived an amendment from Cr Novak to appoint a locum instead of Ms Black.
Cr Baker sought to scupper the amendment asking the identity of the locum.
He argued the Local Government required the council appoint a particular person in the role and leaving the appointment open to a “locum” was not lawful.
But from a suggestion from Cr Ellem and after discussion that the wording in the amendment change to “locum general manager”, the mayor considered the amendment could proceed.
Cr Baker tried again, questioning if the amendment succeeded, it would put the appointment of the acting GM into the hands of the general manager.
The mayor didn’t think so and pointed out there was no actual vacancy until October 7 next year.
Cr Lysaught tried his luck.
‘Do you lack confidence in the mayor’s mayoral minute, or do you lack confidence in the person nominated to fill the role?” he asked Cr Novak. But the mayor ruled his question as “unfair”.
In debate Cr Lysaught said Ms Black had performed her duties professional and “more than capable manner”.
“You wouldn’t submit this recommendation if you didn’t believe so yourself,” he said.
“It’s been traditional. Ever since I have been part of this particular council and the previous council, one of the senior staff was always appointed to fill in during general manager absences.”
Cr Baker dismissed the idea of the new council selecting an acting GM from outside the organisation.
“There could be up to nine fresh pairs of eyes sitting around this table,” he said.
“It would be wrong of this council to leave the position of acting general manager with someone who mightn’t even know their way around the building.”
Mr Baker said it could be hard for a new council to know it they had found a stand in who knew much about the what’s happening at council.
Cr Toms said council had experience with locus general managers when former GM Stuart McPherson was injured.
“Then mayor Richie Williamson engaged Mike Colreavy to do the job from outside the council and he turned out to be an excellent choice,” she said.
Cr Toms said the council had someone in mind for the role who had experience in the role.
“We need a fresh eye,” she said. “If there are nine new councillors, we need to give them right as councillors to appoint somebody they choose.”
Cr Toms said she was not critical of the job Ms Black had done while Mr Lindsay was on sick leave.

General Manager Ashley Lindsay

General Manager Ashley Lindsay

“She has a role as director of corporate and governance and we need her to take care of that,” she said.
Cr Toms said a locum GM would provide welcome change and inject some new ideas which would be good for the council and the community.
Cr Williamson now was not the time to experiment as the council tried to deal with a very challenging period.
“A locum GM couldn’t hit the ground running,” he said. “This council is doing a lot in the community, and we need to maintain the drive for it to continue.”
Cr Williamson was until those calling for a locum GM could put a name to the person they proposed, amendment was a “shambles”.
Mayor Simmons said Ms Black had his total confidence and had shown she was well qualified to step up with the way she handled th role during Mr Lindsay’s period of sick lead.
“She led and progressed a number of major items,” he said. “Settling the water licence agreement with Essential Energy, implementing recruitment of the director of environment and planning is all set out for councillors to see.”
Cr Simmons said the council had record number of projects on its books with funding deadlines, so it was important council used someone familiar with the position.
But he said if the new council was determined to go its own way, it could rescind this decision of council if it wanted to make a change.
Council voted down the amendment 5-4 and then approved the mayoral minute to appoint Ms Black as acting GM by the same margin.

Northern Rivers Local News

Tweed Council goes online for Australia Day celebrations

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Tweed Council goes online for Australia Day celebrations

Tweed Council goes online for Australia Day celebrations

In the interests of public health, Tweed Shire Council has rearranged its Australia Day celebrations next Wednesday 26 January.
Originally planned for an in-person event at the Murwillumbah Auditorium, the event which included both the Tweed Australia Day Awards presentation and the Citizenship Ceremony, will now be held online to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection.

However, there is a silver lining to the decision, with both the awards presentation and the citizenship ceremony to be livestreamed and able to be enjoyed by family and friends in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

“I know many people have been looking forward to our celebrations on 26 January in Murwillumbah but unfortunately due to the current Covid-19 crisis, we have to put the community’s health first,” Troy Green, General Manager Tweed Shire Council said.

“This is still a day for all of us to ‘reflect, respect, and celebrate’ in a Covid-safe way and by joining us online, you can participate in acknowledging our outstanding Tweed Australia Day Award recipients and support our newest Australian citizens,” he added.

The online event will commence at 9am with the awards which recognise the outstanding achievement of individuals and groups in our community over the past year.

A highlight will be a video featuring the winning recipient in each of the 6 categories:
· Citizen of the Year
· Community Event of the Year
· Sport Achievement – Individual
· Volunteer Group of the Year
· Volunteer of the Year – Individual
· Young Achiever of the Year

Both the Tweed Australia Day Awards and the Citizenship Ceremony will be livestreamed. Check Council’s website prior to the Australia Day event or its Facebook page for details on the live link.

www.tweed.nsw.gov.au

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Kyogle News

New Mayor for Kyogle – Kylie Thomas

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New Mayor for Kyogle - Kylie Thomas

New Mayor for Kyogle – Kylie Thomas

By Lara Leahy

Kylie was successful in the peer election on Wednesday 5th January, 2022 and became the new Mayor of Kyogle. It was a surprise for the community, but Kylie has worked towards this position for some time. Kylie has been a councillor in Ward A since 2016 – elected from 7 people vying for a councillor position. She has put her hand up to become deputy mayor and mayor prior to this election. Successful in 2022, she takes her role seriously, “All councillors should be prepared to take on the role.”
Kylie’s first few weeks are being spent coordinating the new agendas and duties she is taking on, including the Joint Organisation and the Country Mayors Association. She is meeting with the newly elected deputy mayor, Tom Cooper to arrange her first steps with the councillors. The ideal for Kylie is to have the councillors working as a team to carry out their roles.
Providing regular outreach to the community, Kylie intends to have a meeting in each ward every 6 months to ensure that they have a voice that is heard. She is also planning to put time aside during every week when members of the public can come and discuss anything of importance with her directly.
Kylie recognizes the good works done by the upgrading of bridges in the area and wants to add to that legacy. She acknowledges the “amazing diversity of business in the Kyogle council region” and the importance of roads and connectivity to that community. If there are any immediate concerns with potholes or other road safety issues, Kylie recommends that you reach out to one of your local councillors. Their information is available online and on the back page of the Kyogle Council Newsletter.
“At any time, members of the community can write a letter, especially an email to council about any concerns”
Attention also needs to be directed to the rental housing shortage. Kylie spoke of the steady population rise “not as large as surrounding areas, but causing difficulties for people looking to get a foothold in the area.”
Kylie will have a presence on Facebook where she will keep people informed in a vlog style format, speaking directly to the camera. You can also expect to see her at public events, so introduce yourself…

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Covid hits supermarket shelves as the ‘RAT’ race continues

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Covid hits supermarket shelves as the ‘RAT’ race continues

Covid hits supermarket shelves as the ‘RAT’ race continues

By Margaret Dekker

The CEO of a major Australian supermarket has advised customers Covid-19 will impact supermarket shopping as we know it.
Brad Banducci, Woolworths Group CEO wrote to shoppers the supermarket is ‘entering a very different phase of COVID’ due to the high levels of community transmission associated with ‘the Omicron hump.’

“When you’re shopping with us at the moment, you might unfortunately have noticed gaps on shelf, or substitutions in your online order. Unlike the surge buying of early 2020 (who could forget the toilet paper), this is because of the number of people in our supply chain in isolation – from suppliers to truck drivers and distribution centre team members – which in turn is causing material delays to store deliveries. To give you a sense of the magnitude of the challenge, we are experiencing COVID-driven absences of 20%+ in our distribution centres and 10%+ in our stores,

NSW is currently the most affected, although we are seeing impacts across the whole country, and it’s not yet clear how soon the system will come back into balance as we move through the Omicron wave.”
The Woolworths chief acknowledged the frustration shoppers would be experiencing, ‘when you can’t find the product you’re looking for’ and said the company was working hard,
“.. to get all products back on shelf as quickly as we can (including Rapid Antigen Tests.)”
“In the meantime, we have more than enough stock in the system and plenty more coming. We also have good supply within each ‘category’ of product (even if your favourite isn’t available, a good alternative hopefully should be), so it really helps if you can be flexible with the choices you make. We would of course also ask you to keep shopping as you normally would and to continue to show kindness to our teams,” Brad Banducci, Woolworths CEO, wrote to shoppers late last week.
The advice comes as Rapid Antigen Tests for in-home testing of Covid-19 continue to elude customers across the Northern Rivers.
A dedicated website to ‘Find a RAT’ was launched last week “helping you find those sneaky RATs” in retailers across the region, however the site failed to ‘get a bite’ anywhere in the region with no stock available in any major centres including Tweed Heads, Byron, Ballina, or Grafton according to the website (at the time of going to print.)
The ‘RAT race’ continues, as state and Federal Governments are still yet to announce the date Rapid Antigen Tests will become free and available, as promised, for countless Australians in growing need.

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