Whittlesea council business has been placed on the backburner as a result of the controversy surrounding chief executive Simon Overland.

Mr Overland is under pressure to stand down from the council ahead of a Royal Commission into Victoria Police’s use of a criminal barrister as an informer 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.

Five councillors failed to attend last week’s council meeting after raising concerns about Mr Overland remaining in the council’s top job.

Cr Norm Kelly has called for him to step down without pay until the Royal Commission concludes.

The absence of Cr Kelly and his colleagues Alahna Desiato, Ricky Kirkham, Mary Lalios and Caz Monteleone from last Tuesday’s meeting meant the council couldn’t deal with a planning application for the Mernda Town Centre and a petition from a group of Mernda residents.

The items had to be deferred to a future meeting after Cr Sam Alessi declared a conflict of interest in the town centre and Cr Emilia Lisa Sterjova declared a conflict of interest in the petition, leaving the council without a quorum for both items.

The town centre development saga has been going on for nine years.

The council originally approved a development plan for the site from Woolworths in July 2009.

Since then, there have been a number of delays and revised plans. Council officers had recommended the council issue a planning permit for the development on Tuesday night.

Mayor Lawrie Cox said the absences were unacceptable.

“[Ratepayers] elect councillors and pay them an allowance. If they can’t turn up, it is not acceptable to the community,” he said.

The delays come after the Herald Sun reported Mr Overland asked for an increase in his termination payment from three months to six months’ pay on November 23 – 10 days before the Royal Commission was announced.

The council received a confidential report from the chief executive officer employment matters advisory committee – comprising councillors Alessi, Monteleone, Cox and Kris Pavlidis, as well as an independent person – at last week’s meeting.

A special meeting has been called by councillors Kirkham, Desiato and Kelly for Tuesday to discuss Mr Overland’s employment.

Cr Cox previously declared the council’s confidence in Mr Overland.