THE fourth councillor to resign from the South Gippsland Shire Council, Lorraine Brunt, will be on her way out on April 1 and, after comments made about her announcement last Thursday by the Mayor Cr Don Hill, her exit can’t come soon enough.
Cr Brunt has issued a further statement saying the “content, tone and lack of respect” for a councillor of six years and a former mayor shown by Cr Hill only confirmed her willingness to go.
Here’s the communique from Cr Hill, headed ‘Statement from the Mayor re: Cr Brunt’s Resignation’ in which he accuses Cr Brunt of sour grapes over the decision to open a vacancy for the shire CEO role:
“The following statement is from Cr Don Hill, Mayor of South Gippsland Shire Council.
“At a confidential meeting on Wednesday which has now been made public, Council voted to advertise the CEO position when the current contract ends on 24 June. It is disappointing to hear that Cr Fawcett and Cr Brunt resigned soon after.
“Whilst every Councillor has the right to take such action it is disappointing that they chose not to continue to represent the ratepayers that elected them both and support the decision of Council.
Council is functioning effectively ensuring a good and appropriate governance standard with the assistance of the oversight of the municipal monitor.
“The remaining seven Councillors will continue to represent the ratepayers to the best of their abilities and will welcome the two new Councillors when they take up their positions.
“This event will not impact the ability of Council to provide good governance or deliver services to its community.
“Council wishes both Cr Fawcett and Cr Brunt all the best and thanks them for their service to the community,” said Cr Hill.
Cr Brunt was not happy.
“The content, tone, lack of respect and lack of acknowledgement by our Mayor of six years of service and immediate past Mayor shows exactly why I have decided to call it a day,” Cr Brunt said.
The comment that the Mayor makes that seven Councillors will continue to make decisions will not be the case. Our effective date of resignation is April 1, 2019 which will see Cr Fawcett and myself at the March Ordinary meeting.
“Cr Brown is on leave of absence for the month of March (applied for at the February meeting) but Cr Fawcett and I will be continuing our role as councillors until April 1 and by then a replacement will have been endorsed and ready for the April meeting.
“I am responsible and dedicated in my duties and role as a Councillor and will continue to represent the community until March 31.
“Because the Mayor has stopped all communication to “All Councillors”, I have no idea if any of the Councillors have complained to the Mayor regarding the media release. You just never know.
“All complaints must only be directed to Mayor and discussed one-on-one with the Mayor. No Openness and transparency, there.
“A Councillor that is being defamed or attacked by the Mayor is rarely shown any support by fellow Councillors,” Cr Brunt claimed.
In her own resignation announcement, Cr Brunt said she had hoped the arrival of Cr Fawcett and new councillor Rosemary Cousin might act as a circuit breaker but nothing has changed.
“Cr Fawcett’s resignation tendered today echoes the sentiments of the previous two councillors who have resigned. All three have referenced how difficult it is to work positively with this group. The difficulties that they mention I understand and have experienced and witnessed,” Cr Brunt said.
“I have done my best to provide leadership in difficult circumstances for Councillors, my Ward and the wider Municipality, especially last year in my term as Mayor.
“It has now become apparent that I am not being given an equal voice and the lack of good governance that exists is of great concern to me.
“I am especially concerned with the self-interest decision making that does not have the community’s best interest at heart.”
There was no comment about the decision taken, in closed session, to advertise the position of CEO.
Cr Hill’s remarks about the departure of Cr Fawcett didn’t focus on the types of accusations levelled at Cr Brunt.
“Cr Fawcett has served as a councillor in two previous Councils and for a few short months in the current term,” said Cr Hill.
“On behalf of my colleagues I wish to thank Cr Fawcett for his efforts on Council and wish him all the best in his retirement from Local Government,” said Cr Hill.