BAYSWATER CEO Francesca Lefante will be replaced after councillors decided not to renew her contract.
The secret vote happened behind closed doors last week and councillors are unable to speak about it. However from murmurs in the weeks leading up to the vote it sounds like there was a split between Ms Lefante’s long-time supporters and those wanting change.
Her contract wasn’t due to expire for a year but councillors were required to give her a heads-up on whether they’d be renewing it.
In a statement issued Thursday morning Ms Lefante said “council is looking for a new direction and new stewardship for the organisation, and I understand and accept their decision.
“In accordance with council’s resolution I will be negotiating on the terms relating to my contract and a leaving date. An announcement on that leaving date will be made at an appropriate time.
“On a personal level, I want to acknowledge the magnificent support of councillors and the city’s staff over the last eight years during my time as CEO.
“To use a boxing analogy, the city is an organisation that punches above its weight and I am sure it will continue to do so for many years to come.
“It has been a pleasure to have led such a dedicated and talented team of management and staff.
“I have no doubt that the city’s success will continue well into the future and I have been proud to have been a part of the City of Bayswater’s story.”
The main issue in recent times to spark discontent has been the handling of the privately owned wetlands near Eric Singleton bird sanctuary, with some councillors reportedly unhappy Ms Lefante did not put an offer to buy some of the land to the full council for a vote.
However historically she’s proved herself as a neutral arbiter able to rise above the internecine bickering between councillors that marked the era around 2009, when councillors were embroiled in suing each other, reporting rivals to the corruption and crime commission, staging walk outs and other publicity stunts. Across those rocky years she played the part of the patient and calm public servant keeping the ship on course when the council chamber resembled a preschool play pit full of squabbling toddlers.
We don’t yet know if Ms Lefante will be given a payout or if she’ll stick around for the rest of her tenure.
by DAVID BELL