Bully complaint hits council
ALLEGATIONS of 'bullying and intimidation' have surfaced at Southern Downs Regional Council, now headed by former Tweed Shire Council general manager David Keenan.
The allegations were aired in local media, The Southern Free Times and Warwick Daily News, last week with accusations senior management had got seriously offside with staff.
The media reported a culture of stress and intimidation was becoming overbearing for staff at the council, who had been 'silenced' and warned not to air their grievances publicly, including through the press or on social media.
SDRC mayor Tracy Dobie confirmed with the Tweed Daily News an official complaint had been lodged by a staff member against Mr Keenan and a council human resources manager.
However, she stressed the complaint was not one of bullying.
"The complaint is being investigated by an independent investigator,” Cr Dobie said.
"It is likely that the result of this complaint will be only provided to the complainant. This is normal procedure in dealing with a complaint from a staff member.”
Cr Dobie declined to elaborate on the nature of the complaint.
"There are no complaints relating to bullying at Southern Downs Regional Council,” Cr Dobie said.
"The last complaint of bullying was in 2014. The complaint was not substantiated. There are no complaints in relation to intimidation that Council is acting upon at present.”
Cr Dobie said Mr Keenan had "the full confidence of myself and all of Council” and accused those who had gone to the media of being a minority out to cause trouble.
"It is disappointing that a small minority of employees consider it appropriate to pull out the 'bullying card' when they are asked to do their job,” Cr Dobie told the Warwick Daily News.
Mr Keenan was dramatically axed by Tweed Shire Council in March 2013, just 10 months into his contract.
The shock move angered many residents with several hundred turning out to two protest meetings in the months after his dismissal.
Former councillor Barry Longland, who was mayor at the time of Mr Keenan's dismissal and came under fire for his part in the dismissal, said he was distressed to hear of the allegations.
"Hearing news that there has been an inquiry into this behaviour is distressing after what we went through in the Tweed and the action we had to take here,” Mr Longland said.
"To hear that there are further allegations being made is worrying.”
Mr Longland said Mr Keenan had lost his job after losing the confidence of a majority of Tweed councillors. A spokesperson for Tweed council declined to comment.
Mr Keenan has been contacted for comment.