Gympie council Water Business executive manager Stephen Jewell is the latest high ranking member of the organisation to leave.
Gympie council Water Business executive manager Stephen Jewell is the latest high ranking member of the organisation to leave.

SHOCK: Another Gympie council executive walks

ANOTHER high ranking member of Gympie Regional Council's staff has left the building, this time at the top of the council's embattled water unit.

Water Business Unit manager Stephen Jewell "is no longer employed by the council", communications manager Sharna Rowley confirmed yesterday.

Mr Jewell had run the unit since April 2018, until his exit early last month.

He was the third person to occupy the role since the unit was created following a controversial overhaul in 2016.

Mr Jewell ran the embattled water department from April 2018 until early last month.
Mr Jewell ran the embattled water department from April 2018 until early last month.

Another manager held the position from January 2017, until early December that year; a contractor then filled the role during the recruitment process until Mr Jewell's appointment.

The council's water department was reshuffled in late 2016, in a process that sparked questions and criticism from the public over a lack of transparency about the reasons behind it, and the shock removal of then-head of engineering (and now Division 8 councillor) Bob Fredman.

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The report that was used to justify the overhaul did not surface publicly until last year following a successful Right to Information request by The Gympie Times.

Mr Jewell took over the Water Business Unit after a controversial overhaul in late 2016, which included the removal of Bob Fredman (picture).
Mr Jewell took over the Water Business Unit after a controversial overhaul in late 2016, which included the removal of Bob Fredman (picture).

It revealed environmental breaches in 2015, a shortage of skilled staff, little evidence of strategic planning, poor long-term performance of environmental KPIs, ad hoc asset management and confusion among staff over roles and responsibilities.

Mr Fredman's departure became an ongoing thorn in the council's side, with some - including new Mayor Glen Hartwig - saying he did not resign, as the council claimed, but was instead sacked.

A letter addressed to Mr Fredman from ex-CEO Bernard Smith, leaked to The Gympie Times this year, confirmed Mr Fredman has initially been sacked from his job.

Acting chief financial officer David Lewis says significant catch-up work was still needed on the council’s water infrastructure.
Acting chief financial officer David Lewis says significant catch-up work was still needed on the council’s water infrastructure.

The dust has still not settled on water services.

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Last year the department came under fire following the breakdown of Goomeri's bores, forcing the council to pay for water to be trucked into the regional town.

Then, in February, water again had to be trucked into the Mary Valley following the failure of all three of the areas water treatment plants.

Acting chief financial officer David Lewis said at last week's meeting there was still "significant" catch-up work to be done on fixing water infrastructure "across the board in both operating and capital maintenance".

Gympie Times


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