The imminent return of the Armidale Regional Council was a win for local democracy, Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said.
NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock confirmed elected councillors would be returned to Armidale Regional Council from 12 December 2020.
The decision, confirmed at the LGNSW Annual Conference, ends the six month-suspension of the Council.
Minister Hancock said the restoration of elected councillors was accompanied by a Performance Improvement Order containing proposals for specific controls and supervision arrangements.
“The local government sector welcomes the Minister’s decision, which returns power to the hands of the people,” Cr Scott said.
“Every community in NSW deserves democratically-elected representation, and this early decision provides sufficient time for progress to be made prior to next year’s local government elections in September.
“Councillors serve at the pleasure of the people, and it is appropriate that they be judged by the people at the ballot box.
“This judgement would have traditionally been delivered in 2020, but local government terms were extended for 12 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Performance Improvement Order conditions require the appointment of a financial controller to improve accounting, monitoring and reporting, with a temporary advisor also in place to facilitate appropriate council conduct at meetings and workshops, which will be open to the public where appropriate.
The conditions also prevent any organisational restructure or change to the General Manager without approval by the Office of Local Government.
Administrator Viv May will present a report on the council to the Minister on November 27; and it is expected to be considered by the Minister in conjunction with Council’s response to the Order.