ARMIDALE Dumaresq Council has closed the book on one of the most tumultuous chapters in its history with the appointment of a new general manager, after the controversial exit of its previous one six months ago.
Yesterday mayor Laurie Bishop announced current Blayney Shire Council general manager Glenn Wilcox would take over the role from August 18, marking “the start of a new beginning for Armidale and the council”.
The council began the search for a new general manager after former GM Shane Burns sensationally left the job, amid allegations of a deteriorating working relationship between he and Cr Bishop.
The issue came to a head when Cr Bishop tabled a mayoral minute on January 21, calling for the early termination of Mr Burns’ contract if mediation failed to resolve the “strained working arrangements” of the council executive.
Mr Burns alleged the move was an attempt to gag him in the wake of code of conduct allegations against the mayor.
On February 17, Mr Burns and the council agreed on terms for the termination of his contract, although the outgoing general manager said at the time he was a reluctant participant in the negotiations and felt he’d been left with no other option.
Yesterday, Cr Bishop agreed it was the end of a tumultuous period, but it had been necessary to secure the future of the council.
“Change is never easy and it sometimes gets people out of their comfort zone, but change was what was needed to move Armidale forward,” he said.
Mr Wilcox was one of two candidates who went through a final interview with councillors last Friday, whittled down from more than 20 who began the process.
He has almost 30 years’ experience in local government, including holding senior positions within Gloucester Shire Council.
Cr Bishop said Mr Wilcox’s appointment showed a commitment by council to secure a strong and experienced leader who could work with the council, staff and the community to deliver a sound economic future for the area.
“My priority has been to bring about change, because it’s imperative that occurs,” he said.
“The local government review panel said we needed to do things differently and that means doing things as a collective regionally, so it’s important we cement relationships with our neighbours and those right across the New England region.”
One of the council’s priorities would be the positioning of the area to take full advantage of the funding opportunity available to regional areas from the part sale of the state’s electricity network.