Council’s new boss faces uncertain future

Planning and regulatory director Peter Chrystal has been chosen to replace Frank Cordingley as the new interim CEO of Newcastle Council.
Nanjing Night Net

However his tenure in the top joblooks set to last just months as city continues to churn through a revolving door of general managers.

Mr Chrystal will act in the role for up to 12 months while recruitment takes place for another interim CEO. That personwill lead the council for 12 months or until a decision is made by the state governmenton whether it will merge with Port Stephens Council.

Areplacement had to be found for MrCordingley immediately on Tuesday night becauseunder the Local Government Act, hiscontract could not be extended beyond a year.

The arrangementspassed with the support of Labor and Greens councillors, who accused the state government of cornering theminto “asituation not of our making” by stringing out the amalgamation decision.

Greens Cr Therese Doyle said it was critical the council had “good governance” while it guided the city through a period of change, including deciding on the usesof the old heavy rail corridor.

“I think the question of expense, of course it should be weighed but it’s important for us to…go through the process of the elected council selecting the CEO,” she said.

Mr Chrystal becomes the eighth Newcastle Council general manager in ten years, in a role that has been referred to as a “poisoned chalice”.

The Liberals and Independents argued thathe shouldfill the role indefinitely while the merger decision looms, labellingit a “silly”exercise and a waste of ratepayer money to go through the recruitment process only to have an administrator installed.

“[Even if the merger does not go ahead] the Act will require us later to go through a costly exercise to recruit the permanent CEO,” Liberal Cr Brad Luke said.“Most people would expect to know the result of the merger proposal soon. We might be appointing someone for literally a month or two.”

Cr Sharon Waterhouse (Liberal) questioned the quality of the external candidates that would apply given the uncertain timeframe.

Cr Nelmes admitted that the council could have started the recruitment process earlier but expressed frustration they had been led to believe a merger announcement was imminent.

“We need to protect ourselves…we could be sitting here in 12 months time having the same conversation.”

Crs Nelmes, Michael Osborne (Greens), and Andrea Rufo (Independent) will be on the merit-based recruitment panel, which will meet no later than November 4.

INCOMING: Director of Planning and Regulatory Peter Chrystal was appointed the new interim CEO of Newcastle Council on Tuesday night, becoming the eighth person to take on the top job in ten years.