Checking the fact-checkers. I write in response to the unsigned letter from Narrabri Shire Council in The Courier on December 2, which supposedly was to provide a ‘Fact Check’ to comments made in the election campaign. As someone who raised concerns at the ‘Meet the Candidates’ session, I can’t let the so-called facts of council remain unchallenged.

Council appears to have been less than completely accurate in some of its facts.

Council claimed that it was judged the best council in NSW in 2018 which is not an accurate statement.

In 2018 council was awarded the A R Bluett Award as the most progressive rural council from those few councils which nominated and were classed as rural, while Fairfield Council won the city and regional award.

Very importantly, just three years after winning the rural award two of the directors and many of the managers responsible for the innovation demonstrated to win the award are no longer employed at council. That is a fact.

Council claimed that it did not have eight human resources staff but instead had five.

This again is not completely accurate as most people would consider employees engaged in worker safety processes to be considered HR employees.

Former staff have advised that it is a fact that council employs three staff to perform the function of worker safety albeit in a differently named section.

If council actually published its staffing structure this would be clear to everyone interested that its HR section is much larger than its neighbouring councils of similar size. Of most concern to me was the claim that council’s staff turnover rate is only 18 per cent and not around 60 per cent of positions. In my question at the candidate meeting, I clearly explained that I had been given a list of indoor staff that had left council since July 2019 (a two years and five months period) and that those numbers amounted to about 40 people of the usual complement of between 65 and 70 of council’s indoor staff.

What I also pointed out was that of those 40 people, three were directors and 12 were managers. This is a fact, a fact that council chose to ignore in its unsigned letter to the editor.

To present the statistics by including all the council staff and reducing the time frame to a single year is not accurate and is clearly alarming and rightly concerns many residents.

Council also claimed the staff survey of September 2021 showed positive results for staff morale.

This may be correct but would be expected when exiting staff confirm that less than only about 50 per cent of staff completed the survey due to knowledge that questions relating to age, sex and department worked in, made it easy to deduce who made what comments and that they could feel providing a poor response may lead to punitive action. Little wonder the staff who commented were making positive comments.

A further fact check I wish to comment on is the claim that over 80 per cent of shire residents have indicated their satisfaction with the performance of council.

This must relate to the community survey the council recently selectively quoted from but unfortunately, the results of this survey and previous surveys are not provided to residents in full on council’s website so people can see the responses for themselves.

This is hardly transparency at work and appears to be an indication of the way council is operating.

Lastly, I find the fact that council considers it a measure of its success that it has not been investigated for breaches of the Local Government Act astounding.

Really, I mean really?

Council is saying that a measure of success is that you haven’t been investigated by the Office of Local Government. Really?

This clearly shows that the council does not understand the feelings of residents. Surely it is a taken that you would not be investigated. Anything less is disgraceful. Yours truthfully.

Ross Gleeson, Narrabri

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