THERE were five empty seats at the Whittlesea Council meeting on Tuesday December 11 amid CEO Simon Overland’s implication in the Lawyer X scandal.
Council has been inadvertently caught up in the scandal due to Mr Overland’s alleged involvement in the lawyer turned police informer scandal.
Earlier in the week, Cr Ricky Kirkham and four other councillors had called for Mr Overland to resign due to his involvement in the pending Royal Commission into the affair.
However, last Tuesday councillors Caz Monteleone, Alahna Desiato, Ricky Kirkham, Mary Lalios and Norm Kelly were all absent at the meeting.
The boycott brought the 11-member council to just over the minimum required for a quorum.
Cr Sam Alessi commented on the absences saying “they’re too busy organising strikes.”
Mr Overland appeared composed as he opened the meeting to a busier-than-usual room of spectators and press.Mayor Lawrie Cox showed his full support for Mr Overland before usual proceedings began.
“Attacks on our CEO have been unacceptable,” he said.
“We endorse and support our CEO and I’m not going to be a party to kicking one of our staff members.“For councillors not to show up, I cannot accept that. It’s not on and not fair on the City of Whittlesea.” Cr Cox said.
In addition to Mr Overland’s links to the scandal, safety concerns are also rising among councillors.
Prior to the meeting, Cr Kelly told The Age a lot of the people involved in the scandal are hardened criminals who aren’t going to be happy with Mr Overland and it raises serious concerns about the safety of everyone attending council meetings.
It comes after a report stating a customer service officer at the City Of Whittlesea received a death threat following Mr Overland’s appointment in 2017.
Member for McEwen, Rob Mitchell, told North Central Review that during his time, Simon Overland has been a very professional police officer and CEO.
“I know there are a few disingenuous and destructive councillors in Whittlesea who are trying to get him removed.“The best thing that could happen for the Whittlesea Council is for those councillors to go,” Mr Mitchell said.