FIRST it was the executive toilet, now embattled Armidale mayor Laurie Bishop has added a dirty mayoral car and no business cards to his list of grievances against general manager Shane Burns.
As the leadership crisis engulfing Armidale Dumaresq Council deepens, Cr Bishop yesterday defended a move to oust the general manager, claiming the organisation needed a cultural overhaul.
“It became very obvious early in the piece that a change agenda was not welcome,” Cr Bishop said.
“The mayoral car was not cleaned and had two illegal tyres. I still don’t have a business card with mayor written on it and it took weeks for them to show me where the toilets and the tea-making facilities were.”
He said his deputy mayor and factional ally Jenny Bailey was even forced to clean his dirty office.
Urgent mediation has been sought between Cr Bishop and Mr Burns – council’s two most powerful figures – after the mayor used his casting vote at two extraordinary meetings this month to pass a motion to effectively remove the GM from office.
It comes as Cr Bishop faces a number of code of conduct complaints, lodged by Mr Burns on behalf of staff members.
The allegations include verbal abuse, intimidation and denigrating staff, with Cr Bishop accused of calling a junior staff member “incompetent” in front of a committee.
Former long-serving mayor Jim Maher, who was ousted by Cr Bishop in September, said moves to dump Mr Burns were in-part being driven by the city’s pro-development lobby.
“There is an element in the community involved in development who I believe have some influence over the mayor,” Cr Maher said.
“Some people see Mr Burns as anti-development but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“He’s been a leading light in developing our economic strategy and has been pushing for industrial land to be released.
“He’s also been at the forefront of our digital economic strategy.”
Cr Bishop emphatically denied he was acting on behalf of developers.
“I’ve never even heard that before; it’s nothing to do with it,” he said.
“This is about improving the level of service council provides and fostering a better working relationship between councillors and council.”