Peter Besseling has resigned as mayor of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
His decision is effective immediately.
Mr Besseling on Monday delivered the bombshell at a press conference at council’s chambers. His resignation will see a by-election held for the role of mayor within three months.
He will take up the general manager’s role with Birdon Marine.
Mr Besseling said it was a sense of disappointment and sadness that he was resigning.
“I am not disappointed with the role that I have had or the opportunities that it created,” he said.
“Certainly I am sad I will be leaving this organisation; I will be leaving a good bunch of people who are doing a good job.
“I have loved representing this community. Certainly the majority of my time is positive and the people I would never have normally met is something that I’ve really cherished.”
Mr Besseling said he realised the significance of the (impending decision) after being approached about the possibility of working at Birdon Marine.
He had been in discussions with Birdon Marine managing director Jamie Bruce for several weeks and was eventually offered the role.
“My first thought was: how can I do both roles,” Mr Besseling said.
“The more I worked through that, the more I realised it was an impossibility.
“My family life was part of the decision too as well as the opportunities beyond just the next couple of years.
“The fickleness of politics and the fact that the mayor’s role is still seen as a part-time job also came into the decision-making process.”
My first thought was: how can I do both roles. The more I worked through that, the more I realised it was an impossibilityPeter Besseling
Council general manager Craig Swift-McNair said deputy mayor Lisa Intemann will undertake the responsibilities and duties of the mayor ‘effective immediately’.
“As general manager I have a series of actions I now need to take in relation to informing a range of authorities about this vacancy," he said.
"These authorities include the office of local government (OLG), local government NSW and the NSW electoral commission (NSWEC).
“Council has a contract with the NSWEC to run all elections and or by-elections for the next few years, so they will run the upcoming by-election.
“As per the relevant legislation, a by-election must be held within three months of the date of notification of a vacancy to the NSWEC, and I would anticipate that the by-election will be held sometime in July 2017, noting that this is a decision for the NSWEC.”
Mr Swift-McNair said it was business as usual for council – in the interim.
“We will continue to deliver a broad range of services on behalf of our community,” he said.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Besseling for his years of service to council and for his community advocacy and leadership,” he added.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Besseling for his years of service to council and for his community advocacy and leadershipCouncil general manager Craig Swift-McNair
Cr Intemann said she was both shocked and disappointed by Mr Besseling’s decision.
“Peter Besseling has performed exceptionally well as mayor. This is a loss to council, nevertheless I wish him every success in his new role,” she said.
“Teamwork among councillors has reached exceptional achievements because councillors were willing to put aside their personal differences to work on behalf of this community.
“Council is on a forward path and I will be contacting all councillors to discuss issues of importance for them in the near future.”
Cr Intemann said the community is assured of a continued direct line to council while standing in for the mayor.
Despite her role as acting mayor and as deputy mayor, Cr Intemann ruled herself out of contesting the mayoral position in the upcoming by-election.
“At this stage of my life I am very happy with my family commitments plus the extremely satisfying position of councillor in representing the community,” she added.
A date for the by-election for mayor will be announced shortly.