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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

IMPROVED SCHOOL FACILITIES ON THE COFFS COAST

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Gurmesh Singh

IMPROVED SCHOOL FACILITIES ON THE COFFS COAST

Students and staff at local public schools will benefit from improved facilities, as part of the State Government’s $484 million 2021-22 Minor Capital Works program.

The annual program, consisting of upgrading and renewing school facilities, produces significant community benefits and provides an opportunity for meaningful investment in schools.
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said he is pleased this program will provide improvements worth over $600,000 at Corindi Public, Crossmaglen Public, Kororo Public and Upper Orara Public.
“I’m delighted these local school communities will benefit from projects ranging from school access improvements to safety fencing and ground repairs,” Mr Singh said.

“It’s essential for our students they can thrive in a great learning environment, no matter where they live or what their circumstances may be.”
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said these local projects are part of the NSW Government’s record investment in public education infrastructure and complements works that have commenced across schools as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the co-funded Regional/Metro School Renewal Program.

“Across NSW, thousands of students are benefitting from new and upgraded schools and improved learning environments,” Ms Mitchell said.
“These projects also provide hundreds of jobs for local businesses across NSW.”

The Department of Education has more than 2,200 NSW public schools and delivery of these projects ensures that schools across the state have access to modern facilities to support learning outcomes. Projects may include new and upgraded covered outdoor learning areas, science facilities, toilet blocks, fencing and canteens.

The NSW Government is investing $7.9 billion over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver 215 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.

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Northern Rivers Local News

Grafton Jacaranda Festival moves date over safety and access concerns

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Grafton Jacaranda Festival

Grafton Jacaranda Festival moves date over safety and access concerns

This year’s Grafton Jacaranda Festival has moved its dates due to the current COVID concerns and to allow for the whole community to attend.

It will be moved back to commence on Friday 3 December for its 10-day program.

Festival Manager Mark Blackadder said the Committee decided due to concerns about the number of infections in Grafton and the 1 December date which will allow all people to attend, it was the right decision to make.

“It’s unfortunate we find ourselves in this situation, but with the number of infectious people increasing daily, we have no option but to do our part to keep the community safe,” he said.

“As Market Square has been designated a major recreational outdoor facility, we were also expecting no restrictions on who could attend, but the double-vax rule has since meant many who haven’t been fully vaccinated won’t be able to.

“Moving the Festival five weeks back will alleviate both these issues and enable us to keep the tradition of the Festival very much alive.”

Some events will keep their original dates due to programming requirements while the bulk of the Festival will move to early December.

“Jacaranda Season will still be celebrated including the GO PURPLE campaign for all businesses to participate and join in the fun of Spot the Kewpie, JACA HQ will open as normal from this Saturday, and ILLUMINATE See Park will still be activated,” Mr Blackadder said.

“All planned bus tours and walking tours will take place as normal, however we’ve had to keep a few of the events to their original dates as they involve touring artists who can’t change their schedule.

“The Ian Moss & Troy Cassar-Daley concert will stay the same date but move to the Saraton Theatre, as will the 18+ Bob Downe & Briefs Dirty Laundry show, while Briefs Bearded Bingo + Bob Downe will be at a new venue.

“We will still have a very full program with all other events moving back, and the Jacaranda Queen Crowning starting the Festival on Friday 3 December.”

Details on the new program will be finalised in the coming days with updates available on the Jacaranda Festival website www.jacarandafestival.com.

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Northern Rivers Local News

DOUBLING DOWN ON DINE & DISCOVER

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DOUBLING DOWN ON DINE & DISCOVER

DOUBLING DOWN ON DINE & DISCOVER

Customers will have more reasons to celebrate catching up with friends and family
this summer with two additional Dine & Discover vouchers up for grabs for NSW
residents.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the expanded program will support residents across
the State and encourage economic activity as part of the government’s economic
recovery strategy.

“From Byron to Bega and Bellingen to Broken Hill, this is about supporting people to
get out and have a meal or spend the day discovering their city while supporting
businesses across NSW,” Mr Perrottet said.

Treasurer Matt Kean said the additional $250 million investment by the NSW
Government would help businesses recover from months of restrictions and
encourage people to enjoy what they love most.

“We experienced the success of the Dine & Discover program when we reopened last
time, which is why we are doubling down efforts with an additional two $25 vouchers
– one for Dine and one for Discover venues,” Mr Kean said.

“We are backing our businesses and helping hip pockets by expanding the program,
in addition to extending existing vouchers until the end of June 2022.”
Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said the vouchers would
again, be delivered via the ServiceNSW app.

“You’ll find them in your ServiceNSW app in time for Summer or you can contact
ServiceNSW and they can send them to you,” Mr Dominello said.

“To date, almost 4.8 million people have taken advantage of the voucher program
since its launch in March, giving businesses a $430 million boost.”

NSW residents aged 18 years and over who are yet to apply will be able to do so until
the program ends and will receive all six $25 vouchers.

Participating businesses do not need to reapply. Those who want to join the program
are encouraged to register, download the scanner app and get ready to redeem.
More information will be made available in the coming weeks on the nsw.gov.au
website.

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