Changes catchup with BallinaCouncil boss

By DAWN COHEN

STUART McPherson was head-hunted to change Ballina Shire culture.

But the changes he instigated may have led to his downfall.

Councillors voted not to renew the general manager's contract at last week's council meeting.

Five years ago, Mr McPherson was head-hunted by a private consultant to help transform the council into line with the 1993 Local Government Act. Before his employment, council staff rose through the ranks.

Councillors made the policy, but the general manager was strictly in charge of implementing it. Although Cr John Felsch did not like the changes, he knew they had to be done.

"Stuart has achieved what was needed. He is very experienced and very skilled," he said.

But there were conflicts.

In 2002 Ballina Shire Council was second highest in NSW in the number of complaints it received, according to a councillor who preferred not to be named.

One of the areas of complaint was insufficient information being provided.

Mr McPherson is not surprised to hear there were concerns about infor- mation.

"It's a well-recognised fact that there are some tensions inherent in the separation of duties of council and staff brought in by the new legislation," he said this week.

"I do articulate what I believe, and that is not always the view they want to hear.

"There was always going to be risks in the change process.

"There was a need for modernisation of processes and image and functionality. Even those who don't support me recognise there has been progress. Not because of me, but I like to think I have been part of it.

"I came here because I did perceive there was a challenge, and there was. I don't regret anything."

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