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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.

Clarence Valley News

Second death in custody at new jail

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Clarence Correctional Centre

Second death in custody at new jail

By Tim Howard

A 29-year-old inmate has died at Clarence Correctional Centre on June, the second man to die in custody at the jail in the past six weeks.
The man, identified as Dictor Mayen Dongrin, was due to front Coffs Harbour Local Court the following day on two charges of common assault, one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two of stalking and intimidation. 
A spokesperson for the jail operator Serco said Mr Dongrin was found unresponsive in a medical holding room by staff around 1.30pm and was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after.
Serco, Corrective Services NSW and NSW Police were investigating the incident.
All deaths in custody are subject to a coronial inquest.
Mr Dongrin was also involved in a apprehended domestic violence hearing with another family member
The court has ceased all proceedings involving Mr Dongrin because of his death.
The spokesperson said Serco extends its condolences to the family and friends of the man.

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Coffs Harbour News

FUNDING BONANZA FOR OUR NEW FESTIVAL AT COFFS HARBOUR

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FUNDING BONANZA FOR OUR NEW FESTIVAL Coffs Harbour Education Campus

FUNDING BONANZA FOR OUR NEW FESTIVAL

The Big Bonanza festival, to be held for the first time on the Coffs Coast in November, will now be even bigger thanks to $200,000 in funding from the NSW Government.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said he is pleased the Festival organiser, Gig Big, has received this significant support from the Regional Events Acceleration Fund.

FUNDING BONANZA FOR OUR NEW FESTIVAL Coffs Harbour Education Campus

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, The Big Bonanza festival director Ben Lewis and Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Paul Amos at today’s announcement at CHEC playing fields.

“The Big Bonanza is a two-day music, comedy and food festival to be held at Coffs Harbour Education Campus playing fields on 4 and 5 November,” Mr Singh said.

“The funding will help with the staging of this live entertainment extravaganza – in particular securing the headline music and comedy artists including Wolfmother, You Am I, Dave Hughes and Judith Lucy, and for temporary event infrastructure which will improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disability.

“The Big Bonanza is anticipated to be a major drawcard for Coffs Coast locals and visitors, which will help to boost our local economy.”

Mr Singh said the Regional Events Acceleration Fund is supporting the growth of existing regional events and attracting new major domestic and international events.

Coffs Harbour City Council Mayor Councillor Paul Amos said: “Not only does Coffs have the Big Banana, but now we have The Big Bonanza coming to our world-class CHEC in November this year. This is yet another flagship event for the Coffs Coast and another feather in our cap adding more colour to the year-round events calendar.

“We know how to stage big events and our community knows how to have a great time, bring on The Big Bonanza,” Cr Amos said.

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Northern Rivers Local News

Oasis Park Development Halted

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Oasis Park plan

Oasis Park Development Halted

 

Story by Lara Leahy

 

Plans were submitted for an extreme sports facility to be built at Carool to go with an existing DA for health retreat style accommodation.  Last week, Tweed Shire Council voted to refuse the Development Application for the park.

 

The initial DA for 35 cabins, and 5 rooms, also include a 4-bedroom site management house and attached granny flat has not yet been issued with a construction certificate.  The latest DA is for indoor and outdoor facilities for sports including motocross, mountain biking, skateboarding as well as gym and trampolining facilities spread over 18,902m2. Between the proposals, there was confusion as per the use of the facilities and how much would service the patrons vs public use.

 

There are 11 reasons council gave to turn the new development down.  Included in which is incomplete information on stormwater management, bushfire risk research as well as risk to potential existing indigenous heritage.  Inadequate infrastructure, such as sewerage, electricity, and car parking were also cited as concerns.

 

Issues regarding noise and light that would see up to 60 patrons visiting a day and up to 200 over 4 annual events were not addressed by the submission.  It was unclear how much of the clientele was to be from public use as opposed to visiting patrons.

 

A large concern was raised in regarding its visual amenity, with two large block sheds at the peak of the development, breaking up the sight lines of the surrounding hills.  The large amount of concrete, asphalt and exposed earthworks were also not considered to be in keeping with the “picturesque hills of Carool.”

 

One of the two sheds were over the height limit stipulated by council, causing interest for the airspace above the shed.  “The application was referred to the Gold Coast Airport Authority as the site has a ground level above the relevant Obstacle Limitation Surface Contour and therefore the development would breach this plane. The Gold Coast Airport Authority advised a full assessment would be required.”

 

Other incomplete information included traffic studies as well as flora and fauna impact contributing to the hesitancy to provide support for the development. Public concern was also considered when 18 of the 21 public responses received in regard to the development found to have objections to the proposal.

 

Two options were presented to council, to refuse the DA or to present them with an opportunity to provide further information.  Due to inconsistencies and inadequacies with the assessment of the works, council officers recommended the first option and refused the DA.  It was found that the “development proposal is not consistent with the Aims of Tweed Local Environmental Plan 2014 to promote the responsible sustainable management and conservation of Tweed’s natural and environmentally sensitive areas and waterways, visual amenity and scenic routes, built environment, and cultural heritage.”

 

The DA report and associated documentation is available on the Tweed Shire Council website.

 

 

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