With the sudden resignation of council’s director of transport and utilities Terry Dodds, ex-mayor Michael Britten is calling on council to appoint “a progressive head of engineering”.
Mr Dodds who has been with council for 18 months, has been appointed chief executive at Tenterfield Council, in the New England region, and an acting director is expected to be appointed over the next three weeks.
The transport and utilities portfolio is a busy one with major work scheduled for Merimbula Airport and studies starting on the Merimbula ocean outfall.
Mr Dodds has been widely commended for his comprehensive review of the asset management plan for his portfolio.
Council said it expected it will take up to three months to appoint a new director.
”Work on the airport will continue during this period. All queries related to the airport will be directed to the general manager and the acting director, when they take over in three weeks’ time,” a council spokeswoman said.
However, previous mayor Michael Britten, believes it is an opportunity to inject cultural change into the entire engineering department.
He is calling for a more “proactive rather than reactive” approach to development and planning in the shire, and has suggested that planners are stymied by the engineers.
“While the planners have received a clean bill of health recently in day to day simple DAs they cannot achieve results in major development, while the engineers are ambivalent to development and take years to deal with what should be simple issues and have no vision to create practical and good development in this shire,” Mr Britten said.
“No effort has been made to reform the rules by which development occurs and the overlay of state legislation that adds to the complexities,” Mr Britten said, in reference to NSW Planning rules preventing Bunnings from building in Tura Beach, due to its classification as a village.
Behind the scenes there is believed to be some disquiet among senior staff who feel they are “at the political coalface”, according to one insider.
However, there could be further staff turmoil ahead after council went into confidential session at the last meeting, Wednesday, August 30 to discuss “organisational structure”.
Fairfax Media understands this to be a reference to the number of directors in the organisation and a desire on the part of some councillors to see a change.
Councillor Jo Dodds had voted to have the discussion in open session, but was outvoted.