Inner West Independent

State Government under fire after Inner-West Council loses third general manager


A former Leichhardt councillor has condemned the State Government’s “reckless and demeaning” approach to the community in the wake of the resignation of the Inner West Council’s General Manager.

On Thursday September 1, the Interim General Manager for the Council, Vanessa Chan, became the third General Manager to resign from the Inner West Council in four months.

Ms Chan’s resignation follows that of her deputies, Peter Head and Brian Barret, who left the council shortly after the amalgamation of the former Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield councils. She cited “personal reasons” as responsible for her decision.

One-time Leichhardt councillor, John Stamolis, said this was evidence that the amalgamation process was flawed.

“[Ms Chan’s resignation] is a symptom of the government’s process, which was a very callous approach [to council mergers]. This rushed process by the Baird government has impacted everybody,” Mr Stamolis told City Hub.

“This has been a reckless and demeaning approach for the community.”

“We have a high level of instability in the executive level [..] you simply don’t lose three GMs without a problem.”

“[The amalgamation] was done in the worst possible way.”

The former mayor of Ashfield, Lucille McKenna, agreed with Mr Stamolis and said that Ms Chan’s resignation was “collateral damage” of the government’s “enormous” expectations on the new council to merge the areas.

As Mayor, Ms McKenna had worked with Ms Chan when she was the general manager of Ashfield Council and said that Ms Chan wouldn’t have resigned unless necessary.

“I don’t think she would have left without the situation becoming intolerable,” she said.

Mr Stamolis also warned the government from appointing someone outside the Inner West area to replace Ms Chan, claiming that they run the risk of disengaging the community further.

Inner West Council Administrator, Richard Pearson, has said that a new general manager will be appointed within the week, but did not indicate if they would come from inside the council area.

“My aim is to ensure a quick, efficient and seamless transition to a new Interim General Manager in order that the momentum we are building in establishing our new Council can be harnessed,” Mr Pearson said.

Mr Pearson also thanked Ms Chan for her work with the council and wished her the best in future endeavours.