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Mayor McCloy makes a move

JEFF McCloy will shift the Newcastle lord mayor’s office out of City Hall to work more closely with general manager Phil Pearce.
Nanjing Night Net

Cr McCloy was formally declared Newcastle’s new civic leader yesterday, reaching an unassailable lead on the fourth preference count.

Arrangements are already under way to move his new office into the roundhouse building – a move that establishes a significant shift from the approach of predecessor John Tate.

Mr Tate moved the office from the council administration building and into City Hall in 1999, citing a need to be “more accessible”.

Cr McCloy said his focus would be on policy. He held a long meeting yesterday with Mr Pearce where they discussed about a dozen priority items and said afterwards that there was “philosophical agreement” about the council’s direction on some items.

The prospect of staff cuts was raised by Cr McCloy during the election campaign, but yesterday he said pursuing that was “not high on my agenda at the moment”.

Mr Pearce has been working for the past year on an “organisational health check” that includes specifically looking at staffing levels and benchmarking them with other councils.

The general manager said that process would continue, but that the administration would also seek input from the incoming council.

“I personally think that’s sending us in the right direction,” Mr Pearce said.

“That’s not to say it can’t be worked upon and improved.”

The make-up of the new council is unlikely to be confirmed until at least Thursday. Two positions are undecided, and will be tip the balance of the chamber.

In Ward 2, Green Therese Doyle or Liberal Nicholas Stabler will win the last spot. In Ward 3, Green Keith Parsons and independent Andrea Rufo are neck and neck.

Mr McCloy said incoming councillors must have regard for the poll result and work together.

Newcastle City Council general manager Phil Pearce and lord mayor Jeff McCloy.