SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has sworn in a new councillor, with another count back on Monday morning.
South Gippsland Action Group president Steve Finlay has agreed to take up the position vacated by Tarwin Ward’s Jim Fawcett, who recently resigned amid claims of bullying within Council.
Last week the same position was rejected by another nominee, Graeme Winkler. Before that the position was rejected by Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks. Mr Hutchinson-Brooks, a former mayor, has backed Mr Fawcett’s claims of a toxic culture within Council.
“Council welcomes the election of Steve Finlay to the role of councillor. Steve is a respected member of community in Leongatha and has a passion for good governance in the shire,” Mayor Cr Don Hill said.
Mr Finlay will be sworn in on Wednesday, April 17, along with Strzelecki Ward’s Frank Hirst. Mr Hirst replaces another resigning councillor, Lorraine Brunt. Like Mr Hutchinson-Brooks and Mr Fawcett, she has made claims of bullying by other councillors.
Mr Finlay’s elevation to Council comes at an interesting time, with councillors asked to formally answer the criticisms levelled at them by Municipal Monitor Peter Stephenson by May 2. Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek is reserving the right to dismiss Council if serious breaches are proven. Mr Finlay’s group has a strong focus on rates reductions.