Originally written by ANGELA McFEETERS
JENNIFER Tod has stood down as the chief executive of Glenelg Shire Council nearly one year short of her contracted term, but will stay in the region.
She was “‘head-hunted’ to take up a position with a major corporation in south-west Victoria,” according to council, and will finish on March 16. Mayor Councillor Gilbert Wilson, thanked Ms Tod for her efforts over the past four years and wished her all the best. “During Ms Tod’s time, there has been significant economic development with the commencement of the Vestas Blade factory, the Portland Wind farm project, the Heywood Pulp Mill proposal, a focus on asset management and a massive resurgence of popularity in the shire libraries after a major restructure and improvement of its services,” Cr Wilson said. Council is now financially sound and has been ranked as the most sustainable large rural council in Victoria according to an independent analysis of their financial key performance indicators, Cr Wilson added. Ms Tod’s tenure has also seen planning in the headlines regularly and, according to Cr Wilson, planning decisions have become more “open and transparent,” and “council also has a vastly improved knowledge of planning issues”, “Council are now in the situation of providing best practice through its planning services. We are currently undergoing important strategic work with the Glenelg Strategic Futures Plan to take us into the future,” he added. However, former staff council town planner Bernie Wilder, who was retrenched from his staff position during Ms Tod’s tenure, told the Portland Observer Ms Tod’s resignation was “the best news we’ve had for a long time”, “Generally the councillors are a great group of people and have the interest of the community at heart, but they’ve effectively been locked out of council by her. She has been a disaster for this municipality and it will take years to undo that,” he said. Mr Wilder described himself as a scapegoat for planning problems “driven by a lack of support from senior management,” and said that despite attempts to drive him out of town he had remained where his heart is. “Council has got progressively worse as she’s been at the helm. There are a number of things that have concerned me and council obviously needs some leadership to sort that out,” he said. “The budget in the planning dept is well over $1 million a year and they’ve got nothing to show for it, and I think they’re on the wrong track with the industrial futures plan,” he added. According to Mr Wilder the loss of airline Regional Express and the failure to make use of Portland’s geothermal water were also major issues, and council’s business development unit had also been wound down. “We could also provide some decent tertiary satellite facilities to keep young people here,” in fields such as engineering, he added. Porthaul managing director Brian Williamson told the Portland Observer planning issues over the last 12 to 18 months had “left a lot to be desired,” and were largely brought on by council, however he remained upbeat. “Portland is at the crossroads here, so lets take this as an opportunity for council to get it right and move forward. I can’t stress enough the importance of council doing whatever they need to do to rectify the issues that have been lingering, particularly in the planning department, for far too long,” he said. Ms Tod’s new job has not been revealed. According to Cr Wilson council have started the processes for finding Ms Tod’s replacement and will meet on Tuesday to discuss how to find their new chief executive and appoint an acting chief executive. An acting chief executive may have to be appointed because many people have to provide eight weeks’ notice for their jobs according to Mr Wilson.