Inquiry into dysfunction

29th Sep 2020

Interim Administrator Viv May has submitted a report to the Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock recommending a Public Inquiry under s438U of the Act into Armidale Regional Council (ARC) be held and a review of the Councillor structure following community consultation.
Mr May announced his recommendations at last week’s Council Meeting in Guyra delivering an Interim Administrator Minute outlining his observations as to what led to his appointment as Interim Administrator of ARC.
He said that it is clear that significant work needs to be done to restore the proper and effective functioning of the council which has failed the community it was meant to serve.
Among the observations he outlined was the position of suspended councillors who believed the result of the widely reported court case had brought dysfunction to an end.
He said that he believed “the court case was simply a further example of how the toxic culture among Councillors of ARC was playing out.” Mr May also said that the dysfunction and disarray has not helped with the completion of the merger and that “unfortunately many residents of the former Guyra Shire Council do not understand the poor state of their former Council’s finances and are using the suspension to further their desire for demerger”.
In accordance with his statutory obligations the Interim Administrator was required to submit a report to the Minister for Local Government no less than 14 days before the end of the initial period of suspension of Councillors. The Act requires the Interim Administrator include in his report any recommendations in relation to improving or restoring the proper and effective functioning of Council.
“I advised the Minister that in my view the community has lost trust in their elected representatives and staff are confused and demoralised by a lack of leadership and direction and political infighting,” said Mr May
“I have had the opportunity of hearing wide-ranging and varied opinions of what led to the suspension of ARC. There was a consistent theme that deep divisions existed and that Council was not providing a proper and safe place of work for its staff.
“ARC in my view has failed its community and needs a fresh start that focuses on the fundamentals of sound local government. This will ensure that ARC will be an effective and well respected Council into the future and take its rightful place as the lead Council in the New England region.”