CITY of Whittlesea administrators last week vowed to build a brighter future for council as they strive to leave behind a turbulent period in the municipality.
The city’s councillors were all dismissed by the State Government in March after a municipal monitor found serious breaches of governance and procedure.
In a five-year span council went through five chief executive officers and spent more than $500,000 in legal fees.
Lydia Wilson was appointed interim administrator in the wake of the sackings and was last month joined by fellow administrators Peita Duncan and Bruce Billson.
The panel, with Ms Wilson as chair, will act in council’s place until 2024 local government elections.
Ms Wilson said it was important for the administrators to help put the city’s governance back on track.
“This is a huge responsibility that has been bestowed upon me, and one that I do not take lightly,” she said.
“My aspirations, and I’m very confident that these are shared by my colleagues, are to leave a lasting legacy at the City of Whittlesea – one of good governance and effective decision-making, strong advocacy on behalf of our communities, strategic long-term planning and policy development, a record of delivery and a partnership approach with the organisation, the community, businesses and other key stakeholders.”
Mr Billson described the opportunity to lead the city as an honour.
“My ambitions are for our community to be an exemplar in local government,” he said.
“When people think of policy and program innovation, I’d like them to think they have to check out what the City of Whittlesea is doing because this is where some of the freshest, most thoughtful and leading-edge solutions are being developed.”
Mr Billson said the city’s ‘diverse and growing community’ made it an attractive place for people to live and work.
He said a focus for administrators would be attracting some of Victoria’s top talent to council.
“I’d love for the City of Whittlesea to be an employer of choice, where people want to be part of this organisation,” he said.
“I’d like us to be the Alastair Clarkson of local government. He’s a footy coach and is not only very successful himself, but four or five other coaches of AFL teams have come through his tutelage.
“I’d love people to know that’s the sort of talent we support and develop here.”
Ms Duncan said she would strive to make Whittlesea one of the best-governed municipalities in Victoria.
“I’m giving the community my commitment that I’m here to stay and that I will do whatever it takes to make sure this is the place to live and to be as we build a thriving community,” she said.
“Keeping the diversity of this community is important to me, particularly the Indigenous community. I think we’ve got a great opportunity to create something fantastic here as a long-lasting legacy.
“We’re obviously in the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I think we’ll get through this and come out the other side with some great results for all our residents and small businesses.”