Whittlesea City Council dismissed

The Act to dismiss Whittlesea City Council has passed Parliament with councillors replaced initially by interim administrator Lydia Wilson.

The Local Government (City of Whittlesea) Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 20 March and provides for the dismissal of the council and appointment of administrators until the October 2024 general council elections.

Ms Wilson will step in to restore good governance to the council until a panel of three permanent administrators is appointed.

Ms Wilson is an experienced local government executive and company director with more than 25 years’ experience in the sector. She was CEO of the City of Manningham for six years until 2012, and also served as CEO of the Macedon Ranges Shire and City of Yarra councils.

Municipal monitor Yehudi Blacher’s report found clear evidence that governance had collapsed in the City of Whittlesea and recommended its dismissal.

In addition, the report found that:

  • the council’s deep divides and personality conflicts have rendered it dysfunctional
  • Councillors failed to provide stability in the Council’s senior leadership with five CEO’s in five years and more than $500,000 spent on internal legal disputes
  • Councillor behaviours have not been consistent with the Councillor Code of Conduct and have caused significant harm to the council’s administration and reputation

Before the dismissal, former Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf had applied for a councillor conduct panel to make a finding of serious misconduct against Whittlesea councillor Ricky Kirkham, pursuant to section 81B(1B)(c) of the Local Government Act 1989.

The application was withdrawn after Cr Kirkham resigned his position on 17 February.