Ballina Shire's Paul Hickey.
Ballina Shire's Paul Hickey.

Concern over leaked figures

IT seems there is a mole in Ballina Shire Council and an investigation has been launched to find who it is.

A letter written by council watcher Vince Kelly, of East Ballina, was published by an online media outlet on March 13 and in it Mr Kelly quotes figures about a land swap between the council and Fire and Rescue NSW.

But the figures were presented at a confidential session of council's commercial services committee.

Mr Kelly, in his letter, described it as a "secret meeting" but wrote: "Nothing stays secret for long."

The council's general manager, Paul Hickey, has confirmed the publication this week of the confidential figures had led to the launch of an investigation about where Mr Kelly got his information from, and a possible breach of the Code of Conduct which applies to staff and councillors.

He said the investigation was only "very preliminary" at this stage.

Mr Hickey said that Mr Kelly's letter "contained confidential information relating to a land purchase and sale that had not yet been publicly released by Council or Fire and Rescue NSW".

"Fire and Rescue had also asked council that we not release any information in respect to this matter as negotiations with Council and the State Government are still continuing," he said.

"As general manager I have a responsibility to investigate how Mr Kelly obtained this information, as the release of confidential information prior to approval by council is a breach of the Local Government Act and Council's Code of Conduct.

"Therefore I have written to Mr Kelly and to councillors and I am also interviewing council staff to try and assess how the information became available to Mr Kelly.

"I wish to emphasise that at this point there is no evidence of any breach of our policies or procedures by a councillor or staff.

"However it is paramount that a thorough investigation be completed to determine what has occurred."

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