For the next three months while I am the Interim Administrator of Armidale Regional Council, residents may be assured that I will do my best to independently serve in an honest, open and transparent way, ensuring all voices are heard.
With that in mind, it is important to record that I have had professional relationships with suspended Councillor Ian Tiley and the CEO Ms Susan Law.
Ms Law was the principal of LKS Quaero a Local Government consultancy and I occasionally assisted with Fit for the Future assessments at several Regional Councils in NSW during the period February 2015 to January 2016. My involvement was mainly centred around Council structures, governance and scale and capacity. Other than being invited as an independent in a Kempsey Shire Council Director recruitment in December 2017, I have had no other assignments with the consultancy.
Dr Tiley is very well known in Local Government professional circles and obviously our paths crossed on a number of occasions being Administrators during the period May 2016 to September 2017.
I come to the role with an open mind and will aim to address all the issues raised by the Minister for Local Government in her correspondence to the Council of 19 May 2020.
Residents, Councillors and staff must question (as I do) how did it come to this?
Money and energy better used in the service of the ARC community seemingly wasted on matters that in my view are not the Charter of a Council. From my early discussions at both the political and operational levels of the organisation this is becoming increasingly apparent.
I am very conscious from my past experiences as an Administrator of the uncertainty that the suspension of a Council brings to some employees. Add to this, the drought, fires and COVID-19 must be having a negative impact on people who just want to get on with their jobs. Loyal and dedicated employees deserve better.
It is important for everyone to appreciate that I have not been appointed as the General Manager of the Council and the day to day operations must and will continue in a seamless way.
In that regard I should mention however, that I have asked that the Council offices be reopened as quickly as possible and that a stop be put to any outstanding Code of Conduct matters until I have had an opportunity to better understand their context.
As already indicted I have started meeting with suspended Councillors and my door will be open to any person who may wish to meet with me over the coming weeks.
It is extremely important that confidentially be maintained in all discussions and correspondence with me. In that regard I have directed that all emails forwarded to me, be only accessible by me.
Experience tells me that many and varied issues will be raised and I will make a determination whether they are more appropriately referred to the Administration for action.
A mobile phone has now been provided to me with the following number 0427 293 082 and while it may not be possible to answer immediately, residents are assured I will return all calls, generally during business hours. It if does not suit, please advise me in your message.
Correspondence addressed to me, will be opened by me and along with relevant confidential emails will be maintained in a secure way that complies with statutory requirements.
I would like to thank the staff of the Council who have put in place at very short notice the audit controls to ensure that any person has absolute confidence in approaching me.
The community deserves better from its Council so let’s commit to work together to restore a democratically elected Armidale Regional Council as soon as possible.