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Second monitor appointed at Strathbogie



A municipal monitor has been appointed at Strathbogie Shire Council following concerns about the council’s ability to function properly.

Peter Stephenson

Peter Stephenson is the second monitor, and third monitor appointment, at the rural Victorian Shire in just over a year.

Local government minister Melissa Horne on Tuesday announced that Mr Stephenson, a former Darebin City Council Mayor, will oversee Strathbogie until August 15.

He has previously been a monitor at Wangaratta and South Gippsland Councils.

Mr Stephenson will also examine why Council has been unable to resolve issues identified by previous monitor Janet Dore, the minister said.

“Mr Stephenson will use his time over the next three months to assess the council’s ability to best serve the community and will report to the Minister for Local Government on any further action needed,” Ms Horne said in a statement.

First monitor’s recommendations

Ms Dore was appointed to monitor Strathbogie Shire in March 2022 for three months to guide governance at council, extending her previous six month appointment.

Janet Dore

In her report, received by Council in January, Ms Dore noted improvements in interactions between councillors and council officers.

However she said there was “poor understanding of councillor responsibilities, particularly in distinguishing between the representative and governance roles”.

The report made two key recommendations, including misconduct provisions that could be applied by CEOs in cases of repeated interference, as well as better sector-wide training.

Mayor Laura Binks said Ms Dore had provided Council with “invaluable learnings and support” and “provided an extra layer of education” for council’s pursuit of good governance.

However she said Mr Stephenson’s appointment was different to Ms Dore’s.

Mr Stephenson will report on the relationships between councillors, and between councillors and Council staff, with respect to the Councillor Code of Conduct and processes for resolving disputes between councillors.

Governance and conduct concerns

Cr Binks said Mr Stephenson’s appointment came in response to serious concerns about governance and conduct raised with the minister by Councillors, Council staff and members of Council’s Audit and Risk Committee.

Laura Binks

“She is concerned there are serious risks impacting the functioning of the Council and the health and wellbeing of its members,” she said in a statement.

“The Terms of Reference to Mr Stephenson’s appointment make it clear he has been appointed to assess the Council’s ability to function properly.”

Council was set to discuss a notice of motion at its May 16 meeting proposing good governance training for both Councillors and Council officers in the next 3-6 months.

“In response to the Municipal Monitors report … it has become apparent that the council would benefit from further training in the area of Good Governance,”  the agenda says.

Mr Stephenson will be funded by Council with the cost expected to be between $32,000 and $52,000 depending on days required.

The post Second monitor appointed at Strathbogie appeared first on Government News.

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