Campaspe communication set to improve

Enhanced communication: A updated version of a policy relating to interaction between council staff, councillors and the CEO was adopted by the Campaspe Shire during its meeting last week. Photo by Cath Gray

Communication between the CEO, staff and Campaspe Shire’s nine-member council is expected to improve on the back of an updated Policy 170, relating to the relationships between the CEO, councillors and shire staff, being adopted at Wednesday evening’s meeting.

The modern trend of the tail wagging the dog councillors not being included in all decisions regarding actions affecting their constituents — may be coming to an end those at the coalface, councillors, now take the lead in providing direction to the CEO and onto senior officers for policy direction.

New, albeit interim, chief executive officer Tim Tamlin had his fingerprints all over the document as it sets out to create a stronger — more comfortable — working environment between the three levels (councillors, the CEO and shire officers).

While working out of the same building it appeared — at least from afar — questionable as to just who was pulling the strings, the nine elected councillors or the CEO and the team of executives stationed within the four walls of the Heygarth St shire headquarters.

Mr Tamlin said the new Policy 170 recognised that the people with their finger on the pulse of the community were the councillors.

He said there needed to be a correlation between what the councillors were hearing in the community and the actions being taken by officers.

“That only happens when all those parties are communicating well and understanding what they need in order to get the best outcome for the customer — in this instance the resident and ratepayers.

The introduction, and re-writing, of policy 170 allowing for councillors to take the lead role in decision-making process at the local government authority.

Local government authorities in Victoria are required to deliver, and update, the policy which dictates the interaction between the CEO, councillors and shire staff.

Mr Tamlin said the updated policy was developed in conjunction with the councillors.

“In the summary, there are some words that I inserted and some provided by councillors,” he said.

“Interaction between councillors, council staff and the CEO is critical — this policy provides a guideline.”

Mr Tamlin used the new corporate “buzzword”, culture, when describing the aim of the policy.

“Personally, I have found a really good council works from good relationships,” he said.

Mr Tamlin said there would always be points of contention and the shire’s newly adopted policy 170 reflected that the document had several different applications.

“For me it was about having the policy written that allowed the councillors and the staff work together as a team,” he said.

“We talked to the councillors and got their feedback.”

He said one of the most important additions was empowering the CEO to get on with business, while councillors were allowed to set the policy that drove the shire.

A key component of the document was for council staff to provide councillors with “timely and accurate information to enable good decision making when representing the interests of the community.”

Mr Tamlin said Campaspe Shire councillors brought a very rich view to the table, one that came directly from community groups and people who they interacted with.

He said while councillors were not responsible for implementing council decisions, and did not have any authority to direct council staff, this did not prevent them from expressing their views

He said administration matters, and implementation, would continue to be undertaken through the CEO.

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