Tensions simmer within council

IT IS feared that the operations of Liverpool Council might grind to a halt as rumours swirl of possible tension between the mayor and the council's chief executive.

Liverpool mayor Ned Mannoun said he has written to the state's corruption watchdog regarding what he said are matters of "serious concern" occurring within the council.

He said he wrote a letter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Division of Local Government and the public interest disclosures unit of the NSW Ombudsman asking that several matters at the council be investigated.

Cr Mannoun said he had previously asked council chief executive Farooq Portelli to look into the matters he was referring to but this was not done.

Mr Portelli said: "If the mayor or anyone else has specific concerns they should have them appropriately dealt with and if necessary referred to the appropriate body for investigation".

Cr Mannoun would not comment on what the matters of concern were.

It is a turbulent time at the council with a meeting on December 18 having to be deferred after a confidential mayoral minute about a staffing matter could not be debated because a quorum was not achieved when half the councillors walked out.

Mr Portelli, who is responsible for staffing at an operational level, did not comment on the subject of the mayoral minute because he said he did not see it, but said that staffing matters had to be dealt with in closed session under the Local Government Act.

After waiting for two hours to see if the debate could proceed, Cr Mannoun deferred the council meeting to December 23.

At that meeting, the staffing matter was not discussed after all councillors received a letter during the session.

The Champion understands the letter referred to a complaint made about the mayoral minute and the conduct of some councillors which had been sent to the Division of Local Government.

A spokeswoman for the Division of Local Government said it was "monitoring" the situation at the council but had not launched a formal investigation.

She said the division did not comment on any specific complaints which were lodged with it.

Cr Mannoun did not comment on rumours that he and Mr Portelli were not on speaking terms.

Mr Portelli said he and his staff were conducting business as usual.

"My executive team and I will always put the interest of our community first."

"I also confirm that I communicate directly with the mayor, in person and in writing."

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