14 lake council staff to approve street sign

IT was a simple request for a suburb sign at Redhead.

Lake Macquarie councillor Daniel Wallace, who made the request, was left gobsmacked when he discovered in an email that his request had involved 14 council staff.

‘‘It was just a request for a sign,’’ Cr Wallace said. ‘‘You’d think it would go straight to the supervisor who organises the signwriter.’’

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Cr Wallace said the matter cast doubt on assertions from senior officials that the council was efficient.

‘‘If we can’t get the system right for a sign, then maybe we should stop believing what they’re telling us,’’ he said.

Cr Wallace questioned whether similar bureaucratic practices were happening in other council sections.

‘‘Putting signs up is bread and butter work for the council,’’ he said.

‘‘I was disappointed that it went through so many sets of hands and the end result was someone would investigate it.’’

Cr Wallace said he raised the matter with council general manager Brian Bell, who had assured him things would improve.

Cr Wallace said the sign was put up two months after his initial request, but he noticed yesterday it was missing, possibly stolen.

He said the incident would provide a chance for council staff to show they had improved the system.

He said Mr Bell had promised to ‘‘put controls in place to make sure there’s a better system in future’’.

But when the Newcastle Herald asked the council for comment, there was no sign of any such contrition.

‘‘This issue was raised four months ago on March 12 and dealt with on March 13,’’ a council statement said.

Cr Wallace made the sign request through the council’s ‘‘VIP and MP request system’’, the statement said.

‘‘The system alerts relevant council officers of high-priority requests made by councillors and MPs, so the officers can act as promptly as possible,’’ the statement said.

The statement said the matter also involved Cr Wallace receiving ‘‘three responses to a VIP request’’.

‘‘This was an error resulting from the absence of usual staff handling these matters due to annual leave and replacement staff not being fully aware of procedures,’’ it said.

Feedback on the request system from councillors and MPs ‘‘has always been extremely positive’’, the statement said.

‘‘It is one example of council systems being developed to ensure that we maintain our already high customer service standards.’’

Many helping hands

FOURTEEN council staff were involved in Cr Daniel Wallace’s request for a sign at Redhead.

They were: customer service officer, asset management manager, acting personal assistant asset management, transport co-ordinator, community land planner, community planning manager, finance and administration officer, community liaison officer, personal assistant to managers, community and recreation development co-ordinator, communications co-ordinator, personal assistant general manager, public relations officer, community development director

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