The new mayor of Ku-ring-gai has extended an olive branch to the council’s general manager by signalling his intention to withhold discussing the latter’s future so a factional stalemate can end.
Cr Cedric Spencer said he had written to a council director to have the business item regarding John McKee’s performance review withdrawn from the next meeting’s agenda, after Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said she was readying to intervene.
It comes after five of the 10 councillors, including former mayor Jennifer Anderson, declined to attend eight attempts to hold meetings, with Mr McKee’s tenure front and centre of the proposed discussions, after Cr Spencer won the mayoralty on September 21.
The absences of those councillors meant that no proposed meetings had the required numbers to go ahead, bringing the discussion of any council business to a halt.
“In the interest of the community, I hope the five consistent absentees would rise above their personal agenda, put the community first, and attend the meeting on 2 November 2021,” Cr Spencer said in a statement, adding the council would go into caretaker mode on November 5.
However, councillors Callum Clarke and Martin Smith, two of the absentees, instead requested an extraordinary meeting be held on Monday, November 1, to deal with the balance of unattended business, excluding the general manager’s performance review.
This was to avoid the risk of councillors failing to show on November 2, as it was the day of the Melbourne Cup.
The Office of Local Government has written to the absent councillors asking them to explain their absences, whether they discussed their intentions to not attend with other councillors, and whether it was their intention to continue to avoid meetings.
Mr McKee told councillors in a memo that he had barred Cr Spencer from speaking to staff in person and over the phone, and had relocated municipal employees, including Cr Spencer’s personal assistant, to act on serious concerns he had “as a result of information coming to my attention”.
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