‘Highly provocative and illegal’: Cr shuts down GM survey
CLARENCE Valley Council's general manager has been given a ringing endorsement along with a contract extension by councillors.
Yesterday councillors approved a new three-year contract for Council GM Ashley Lindsay in an effort to assist them to plan for the future and support his transition to retirement.
Mr Lindsay's contract was due to expire in July 2022 and the intention of the move - at the GM's request - is to allow him to enter into a long service leave arrangement a year before his retirement.
Councillors also passed a motion noting his annual performance review.
The new contract ensures a newly elected council will be in place by the time they would be required to seek out a potential replacement if he enters into the proposed long service leave.
The move came after some councillors strongly backed Mr Lindsay and leapt to the defence of the performance review system after Cr Debrah Novak questioned whether it took into account feedback from the community.
"Did council ask the community or staff for any feedback or issue a survey? I am just wondering how you determine he has done a good job," Cr Novak said.
Mayor Jim Simmons said the performance review panel assessed his performance according to the appropriate guidelines and he understood there had been some feedback from staff.
It is not the first time the performance review process has been questioned by councillors, with Cr Novak and Cr Greg Clancy voicing concerns in 2019.
However, Cr Novak's questioning illicited a strong response from Cr Karen Toms, who invited any councillors unsure of the process to revisit the performance assessment which they had adopted in October 2018.
"Every councillor should be aware of the process," Cr Toms said.
"It is highly sensitive and something we would not seek feedback from the community (on) in terms of anybody's employment.
"In any organisation it's just not something you would do. It is highly provocative and, I think, illegal … under the terms of employment."
Cr Arthur Lysaught said the panel was "thoroughly professional in every way" and the GM was "scrutinised at a level far greater than any other person in employment in the Valley".
"We listened earlier to the Mayor speak about the award this council received because of its communication (during the bushfires) … we should be very proud of our general manager when we see things like this come forward."
The performance review panel noted it was "more than satisfied" with the GM's performance and the motion to note its assessment was passed with Cr Novak the sole vote against.
"During a chaotic last 12 months with bushfires, floods and COVID-19, the general manager has demonstrated positive leadership of both the organisation and within the community," Mr Simmons said.
"Throughout this unprecedented time the organisation has still managed to meet both community and council expectations."
The motion to issue the GM a new three-year contract was also passed with Cr Novak the sole vote against.