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Northern Rivers Local News

Council split emerges over acting GM appointment

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General Manager Ashley Lindsay
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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.

Business News NSW Northern Rivers

Strong interest for NRLX leasing proposal

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The NRLX lease from above.
Strong interest for NRLX leasing proposal
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Strong interest for NRLX leasing proposal

RICHMOND Valley Council advises the conclusion of the tender submission period for the leasing of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange (NRLX).

According to global real estate experts JLL, which is managing the tender process for Council, the leasing proposal garnered widespread attention and interest from industry-leading entities with multiple submissions received.

Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said having JLL manage the tendering was instrumental in ensuring a thorough evaluation of proposals was undertaken to make sure the selected proponent aligned with Council’s objectives for the NRLX and brought value to the whole Richmond Valley community.

“JLL’s team will now carefully review each proposal, assessing them against the tender criteria and provide advice to Council to determine the best proposal for the lease of the facility,” Mr Macdonald said.

“The aim is for Council to make the necessary decisions during December and, subject to a satisfactory proposal being received, authorise the finalisation of the lease for the facility.

“Council shares the community’s desire to have the NRLX back operating, with the intention to have it re-open as soon as possible in 2024.”

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Lismore News

Further charges laid following man’s death – Lismore

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News
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Further charges laid following man’s death – Lismore

Detectives have laid an additional charge of murder following the death of man after an alleged assault in Lismore.

Officers attached to Richmond Police District were called to a home on Keen Street, Girrards Hill, about 12.45pm on Saturday 30 September 2023, and found the homeowner suffering critical head injuries.

He was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics before being taken to Lismore Base Hospital for treatment of multiple fractures.

Detectives commenced an investigation under Strike Force Nemesia and a 46-year-old man was charged. He remains before the courts.

On Saturday 7 October 2023, investigators were notified the man had subsequently died in hospital.

An additional charge of murder will be laid at Lismore Local Court today (Wednesday 29 November 2023).

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Grafton News

City landmark falls to start $29.5 mil project

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Bathurst builder Hines Constructions won the contract for the $29.5 million build of the Regional Aquatic Facility.
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City landmark falls to start $29.5 mil project

 

By Tim Howard

A Grafton landmark has disappeared in the past week, but it’s proof that a much awaited facility is on target for a December 2024 opening.

The Grafton Memorial Pool waterslide which dominated the landscaping of the pool grounds for decades has come down and heavy machinery has begun tearing up the pool structures and surrounding ground to begin stage one of the $29.5 million project

The head contractor, Bathurst firm Hines Constructions Pty Ltd, has promised Clarence Valley Council it will complete stage 1 of the project, known as the Regional Aquatic Centre, by December 2024.

The first stage will include the indoor facility, which includes two 25 metre pools.

The 50m outdoor pool will be part of Stage 2 of the project

The start of construction will rule out any use of the Grafton Pool site over the summer.

Heavy machiney at work beginning to demolish the pools as part of stage 1 of the Regional Aquatic Project.

Heavy machiney at work beginning to demolish the pools as part of stage 1 of the Regional Aquatic Project.

In 2022-23, despite the closure of the pool, the water slide was opened at selected times.

The pool has a close connection to the Grafton community

It’s origins go back to December 11, 1943, when 13 Cub Scouts drowned in the Clarence River returning from a picnic on Susan Island.

Findings from the tragedy revealed most of the boys had not learned to swim and the community resolved to raise funds to build a pool so children could learn to swim at an early age.

The name Grafton Memorial Pool was a reference to the boys that died on that day almost 80 years ago.

After fundraising, construction of the pool began in 1954 and it opened in 1956, the year of the Melbourne Olympics.

In the pool’s first year of operation it was visited by a touring squad of Olympic swimmers which included Sport Australia Hall of Famer, Jon Henricks.

During the visit Henricks competed in the 50m freestyle at a club event which he won in 25.60 seconds before going on to Melbourne to become Australia’s first ever Olympic 100m freestyle champion and set a new world record.

Bathurst builder Hines Constructions won the contract for the $29.5 million build of the Regional Aquatic Facility.

Bathurst builder Hines Constructions won the contract for the $29.5 million build of the Regional Aquatic Facility.

Henricks’ record, which stood for 60 years as the fastest 50m in the Grafton Olympic Pool, was beaten in 2016 by local swimmer Charlie Steele in a time of 25.11 seconds.

Over the years the addition of the waterslide and diving pool turned the facility into a regional attraction which brought visitors to the city.

But the past decade revealed issues at the pool, which included a massive water leak.

It is believed the water escaping from the pool into the ground around it has created a sinkhole responsible for the structural instability which forced the council to close the pool ahead of the 2022-23 swimming season.

The council had developed a shovel-ready plan for the Regional Aquatic Centre, which has been used for the current project.

Future stages will include the 50m outdoor pool and two waterslide.

 

For more local Grafton news, click here.

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