JUSTIN Levido has resigned from his position as a Port Macquarie-Hastings councillor, effective immediately, adding further to a week of turmoil for the organisation.
It began with Mayor Peta Pinson at Wednesday night's (June 3) council meeting putting on the public record allegations the elected body had become a "warring faction", accused colleagues of bullying and harassment and said the council was no longer effectively serving the community.
It was followed yesterday (June 4) by the resignation of general manager Craig Swift-McNair who will leave the organisation on July 1 to take up a new leadership role at Woollahra Municipal Council in Sydney.
On the GM's resignation, Cr Pinson stood firm on how she wants the elected body to move forward. She said councillors must work together or resign.
READ HOW THE JUNE 3 MEETING PLAYED OUT: Mayor calls out council's "warring faction" but fails in push for early election
Mr Swift-McNair was delegated the authority at the council meeting to seek external professional remediation advice for the elected group and said he would do so before he left the organisation.
The general manager reinforced his belief the council as an organisation was on track and its success can been measured by what it has delivered to the community under his leadership.
Cr Pinson said the decision, which quashed her move to call on the Minister for Local Government for an early election, would "make no difference whatsoever".
GM CALLS IT QUITS: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's general manager resigns
Mr Levido tendered his resignation as councillor with the general manager today (June 5).
He was elected to council in September 2012 after witnessing almost five years of external NSW State Government administration.
"I was keen to see our council back in locally elected hands focusing on delivery for the whole of the Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA community," he told the Port News.
"Some seven years and 10 months later, I can say that, on the whole, delivery for the community and working as a collegiate and respectful team for most of that time has been successfully achieved. But, over the recent past, the focus has sadly shifted towards a less collegiate and respectful team environment focused on working for the broader LGA community to one where personalities and individual goals are given precedence.
"I am proud of the input that I have been able to give and the role that I have been able to play in delivering for the community."
Mr Levido recognises the completion of the Stringray Creek Bridge replacement at North Haven, the expansion of the Port Macquarie Regional Indoor Stadium, the upgrade of the Port Macquarie Airport Terminal and the significant Villages Sewerage Scheme involving providing a reticulated sewer service to the villages of Beechwood, North Shore, Telegraph Point, Comboyne and Long Flat among some of the achievements of council in his time as an elected representative.
"I am a small business owner having established my own stand-alone law firm in October 2018," Mr Levido said.
"The COVID-19 crisis has had an unprecedented effect on all aspects of Australia society and the business community in particular and my business is not immune from that.
"The challenges I am facing in that capacity require me to shift my focus to concentrating on the survival and continuation of that business for the benefit of my staff, my clients and myself."
I hope council can find its way back to being solely focused on delivering for our community.Justin Levido
Mr Levido said it was fair to say the events of this week concerning the mayor and the resignation of the general manager were "significant".
"I wish him well in his new career with Woollahra Council. Craig is an impressive general manager whose work ethic, commitment, eye for detail, leadership to the whole council organisation, mentoring ability and active and availability as councillor contact person has bought significant benefits to council, its operations and the community at large.
"It is fair to say that our significant loss is Woollahra Council's gain."
Mr Levido acknowledged the professionalism of council staff on all levels and thanked them for their assistance in the many projects and activities in which council has been involved over the years.
"I hope council can find its way back to being solely focused on delivering for our community," he said.
"It's been heading this way for a while and it's very disappointing."
The general manager is now required to inform a range of agencies of the resignation, including the Office of Local Government, the NSW Electoral Commission and Local Government NSW.
As required under Section 294 of the NSW Local Government Act 1993, the general manager will apply to the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Shelley Hancock MP seeking permission not to fill the councillor vacancy. This is due to the resignation occurring within 18 months of the next ordinary local government election.
If the Minister orders that the vacancy not be filled, then no by-election is required.
The local government elections were to be held in September but were postponed until 2021 due to COVID impacts.
The Minister is yet to formally set a date for the elections.
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