New mayor explains why GM’s contract was terminated
Update, 11am: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin says she hopes Lismore City Council can "reset" after the sacking of general manager Shelley Oldham and the election of Vanessa Ekins as mayor.
Ms Saffin said ratepayers and businesses should now be the council's main priorities in the months leading up to local government elections in September this year.
"Locals have told me it's been a few torrid years at council and what we need is some calm leadership for the good of ratepayers and residents," she said.
"Looking after them must again be the council's main priority, as it is mine,.
"I'd like to see more attention given to our CBD businesses and industry.
The September election is likely to ring in changes in the make-up of a new Council who will have the job of recruiting a new GM with a view to the future.
I wish only positive things for that future."
Original story: Lismore's new mayor has said general manager Shelley Oldham's contract was terminated despite "her working really hard" for the council.
In an interview with The Northern Star this morning, Cr Vanessa Ekins confirmed the council had been planning to remove Ms Oldham for some time.
Cr Ekins acknowledged the results Ms Oldham achieved regarding dealing with the challenges facing council, including a $6 million deficit.
But she dismissed any suggestions the Local Government Minister, Shelley Hancock, would move to place council into administration despite the turnover of senior staff and councillors and its recent financial turmoil.
Cr Ekins also confirmed that Michael Donnelly had been approached and will take on the general manager's role in a caretaker capacity as of February 10.
She said a series of challenges faced by the council, including floods and financial matters as well as social media, contributed to the decision to terminate Ms Oldham's contract under the no fault clause.
"The decision was made by the council, we have all been through a really difficult couple of years," Cr Ekins said.
"We had a series of natural disasters and with troubled finances and working through a difficult financial plan for the organisation, it's been really hard on everyone."
Cr Ekins said the councillors called a confidential session to implement the decision late on Tuesday evening.
"We went into confidential session with four items to discuss including bullying and tenders and an emergency motion was raised," she said.
"We discussed the general manager's employment and decided to implement the no fault clause.
"Shelley Oldham has worked very hard for council and we really appreciate the effort she has put in."
Cr Ekins said councillors needed to focus on the future.
"We will be soon putting out to recruit an interim general manager for 12 months," she said.
"We have all found this really difficult and will focus going through a budget and a long term financial plan.
"After elections the new council will be in a position to decide on its priorities and find a general manager that suits them."
Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock is expected to make a comment later today.
Page MP Kevin Hogan declined to comment on the matter except to congratulate Ms Ekins on her appointment as mayor.