Five Whittlesea councillors failed to attend tonight’s council meeting after raising concerns about Simon Overland remaining as the council’s chief executive.
One of the councillors, Norm Kelly, has called for Mr Overland to step down without pay until a Royal Commission into Victoria Police’s recruitment of a lawyer as an informant is complete.
The Royal Commission was announced by the state government following revelations that a female criminal barrister was an informer for police from 2005 to 2009.
Mr Overland was a deputy commissioner at the time the lawyer, known as Informer 3838, provided police with information during Melbourne’s gangland war.
Cr Kelly and his colleagues Alahna Desiato, Mary Lalios, Caz Monteleone and Ricky Kirkham sent an email to Mr Overland last week raising concerns about him remaining as the council’s chief executive. All five were absent from the meeting.
Speaking before the meeting, Cr Kelly said the councillors were worried about how the Royal Commission would impact on Mr Overland’s ability to do his job, the council’s reputation being damaged, and security at council meetings.
Cr Kelly said the group was yet to receive a response from Mr Overland but had received an email from mayor Lawrie Cox saying it was “business as usual”.
“The CEO of our council has been on every paper every day for a week…we’ve got concerns. How can he focus on us when is dealing with all this?” he said.
“What’s going to be the damage to the Whittlesea council brand? If this is affecting his ability to be CEO or if it is affecting ratepayers then he should step aside.”
Cr Kelly said the group was considering calling for a special council meeting to discuss the issue.
“We might be in the minority with council but our concerns deserve to be addressed,” he said.
Addressing the council meeting, Cr Cox said the comments made in the media about Mr Overland by some councillors were disappointing.
“I have made it very clear this council supports the CEO,” he said.
“I’m not going to be party to kicking a staff member .”