Monday, 9 March 2009


From the Newcastle Herald a week or so ago...

Manager to exit Newcastle council
28/02/2009 4:00:00 AM

CITY Hall is in for a major shake-up, with the contract of one of Newcastle's most senior bureaucrats set to be severed and a staff freeze while the organisation reviews its entire operation.

Speculation about dissent within the ranks of Newcastle City Council was rife in the King Street roundhouse this week with the absence of city services group manager Janice Walsh.

Ms Walsh is not expected to return to her $186,200-a-year post, despite having a year left on her contract.

Council general manager Lindy Hyam confirmed Ms Walsh was on leave but declined to comment further.

Ms Walsh said she was on leave and would not comment.

Council memos obtained by The Herald indicate negotiations to end Ms Walsh's employment have been under way for the past week.

One of the memos, from Ms Hyam, states "negotiations are continuing for settlement of contractual arrangements with Janice Walsh".

Another, also from Ms Hyam, notes receipt of an email from Ms Walsh's lawyers and states Ms Walsh would be on personal leave this week.

City services group manager is one of the council's top five executive positions, with responsibility for managing hundreds of staff and overseeing operations including waste collection and major projects such as the Newcastle Ocean Baths restoration.

Ms Walsh was appointed to the position in late 2000.

Her previous experience, as listed on Newcastle City Council's website, includes a chief executive officer post in Victorian local government, and senior executive roles in the private sector in telecommunications, vehicle and airline industries.

More staffing changes are expected as part of the organisational review under way at City Hall.

Ms Hyam initiated the review in December, just three months after joining the council.

External consultants are carrying out the project, which has been described as the biggest overhaul of council operations for many years.

In the meantime, recruitment has been frozen at the roundhouse.

Ms Hyam said in a letter to staff members, obtained by The Herald, that positions vacant will remain open during the review period.

She also seeks to reassure her "anxious" workforce.

"Any form of change can be difficult and create uncertainty," Ms Hyam writes.

"I take my responsibilities as your general manager seriously and will make every effort to provide ongoing employment."

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