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Mayor welcomes additional assistance to resolve factions

Council welcomes all constructive input to maintain the effective operations of the organisation and its good governance, Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said.

Councillor Murray acknowledged yesterday’s actions by the NSW Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, who sought the involvement of the Office of Local Government (OLG) to resolve divisions between some councillors and a subsequent challenge to the tenure of the Chief Executive Officer, Susan Law.

“Our organisation has also previously sought input from the OLG as we work to address that factional division between councillors. However, I challenge the suggestion that Council is not an effectively functioning body. It’s continuing to deliver on service to the community and key projects, as our effective local management of the COVID-19 crisis, numerous measures to assist businesses impacted by the pandemic and recent announcements such as our Kempsey Road repairs and new Guyra preschool will testify.

“Similarly, our CEO continues to display ongoing leadership that earned her an ‘above average’ rating for her most recent performance review by the full panel of councillors.”

“The focus of Ms Law and Council staff continues to be the effective delivery of service and projects and the fiscal heath of the organisation. It should be the same for all the councillors, which is why Council has also involved the Land and Environment Court.”

On Monday, the court issued a temporary injunction which prevented an extraordinary meeting of Council, which had been called by some councillors to consider terminating the CEO’s contract.

 “The decision to involve the Court was taken to protect Council from liability created by any (potentially) unlawful decision with respect to the removal of the CEO,” Mr Murray said.

That deference to legal adjudication and the involvement of Council’s Governance staff to make that happen has been completely appropriate.

“As suggested by Mr Marshall, strong leadership is needed more than ever in this region, which has been rocked by COVID-19, drought and bushfires.

“It has never been more important for Council to maintain its current momentum to deliver on its objectives, for the benefit of our community.

He said Council operations will continue unchanged.

“No Councillors are restrained from conducting the ordinary business of Council. They are able to vote, and conduct normal Council business, other than determining the CEO’s employment, until that matter is decided by the Land and Environment Court.”

“I will do everything in my power to steady the ship and ensure we continue to put the community’s interests first and set a path to recovery and prosperity in the future,” Cr Murray said.

“We have a great team of dedicated staff that are committed to delivering projects against the Operational Plan and they remain determined to see these projects through.”

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