The strategy applied by Byron Shire Council (BSC) since 2002 is bemusing at best.
Firstly a position was created by the general manager in 2002, that of Operations Manager (0M) in Water & Recycling, the whole process was extraordinary. The existing director had given three months notice, eight people were shortlisted for the position, two were chosen as being the people wanted for the position, and both refused when contacted. The Director of W&R wanted to advertise the position again, the GM said ‘No – fill it out of the applicants you have.’
The person employed had, in my opinion, insufficient practical experience in wastewater or water treatment, they did not bring enough to the position and ‘learned as they went along’. The person resigned in 2018.
There was restructure after restructure under this person, and then a new director of W&R; none of which really benefited the performance of the operational part of W&R.
Sewerage Treatment Plants (STP) are now not permanently manned in Byron, which they used to be. Plants are supposedly run by telemetry from the office. W&R staff on the ground has been cut to the bone, but middle management positions in W&R have increased.
Assets such as a laboratory in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate that had applied for and achieved a NATA registration have been closed – why?
This laboratory was used for the process monitoring of the wastewater plants plus water analysis. No real attempt was made to acquire a private workstream to make the laboratory cost-effective. They just closed it – why?
W&R bought a sludge drying belt press for $1.3million in the nineties, this machine finished up being permanently placed at West Byron, delivering dried sludge to a bunded area in the plant. All of the sludge from the other STPs came to WB and went through the belt press, which would generate forty to fifty cubic metres of dried biosolids a day. The suggestion was made, by myself, to the OM and the Director of W&R that we should look at developing these biosolids into a fertiliser onsite and source a market for it. The response from the OM and director, with no consultation, was ‘We are not capable of running a small business such as this.’ Why not?
Where are the biosolids going now, and at what cost?
You also have to wonder how the current general manager can possibly justify the outdoor staff numbers being cut from 170 to approximately 74 while salaried positions have increased to nearly 300.
Alan Dickens, Brunswick Heads