TENSION between newly elected Wangaratta councillor Julian Fidge and chief executive officer Doug Sharp has flared on a new front.
Cr Fidge succeeded with a notice of motion on Tuesday night to strip the power of the council executive, led by Mr Sharp, to appoint consultants for the next 12 months.
The councillor, who has already accused Mr Sharp of trying to gag councillors, said his notice of motion was designed to save on the $1.2 million spent on consultants last year.
But in another swipe, Cr Fidge said yesterday unless Mr Sharp was prepared to work with other new councillors, he should quit.
“I am very dissatisfied with the CEO’s attitude and behaviour toward the new council,” Cr Fidge said.
“I value his corporate knowledge and hoped he would work with us, but it hasn’t happened.
“It is obvious he is not committed to the new council and he is being needlessly obstructive.
“As such, I would be very happy to receive his resignation.”
Cr Fidge gained the backing of two other new councillors Noel Amery and Paul O’Brien and the mayor Rozi Parisotto.
The support of Cr Parisotto, a long-serving councillor, is seen as another slap in the face for Mr Sharp and council staff.
Cr Parisotto’s mayoral rival last year, Cr Don Joyce, strongly backed Mr Sharp on Tuesday.
“I plead to our business and community leaders to support our administration and council,” Cr Joyce said.
He declined to comment further yesterday.
Cr Fidge said the council had previously shown an ability to take control of contentious issues, rather than appoint consultants.
He cited the rural land strategy adopted by the previous council as an obvious example.
It is under review in a move already instigated by the rural-based councillors elected last November.
“Council has a duty to be frugal with ratepayers’ money,” Cr Fidge said.
“And it has never been more important that council discharge that duty than now.
“Every time they want to engage a consultant, it will come to council and we will say yes or no.
“If we have the knowledge within council staff, we would be saying no and handling it with our own resources.”
An investigation is already being conducted into claims Cr Fidge felt he was being inhibited by Mr Sharp in carrying out his councillor roles.
Mr Sharp couldn’t be contacted for comment.