Gabrielle Kibble resigns from Wollongong council

Juggling four senior public service roles simultaneously has taken its toll on Gabrielle Kibble, prompting her resignation as one of Wollongong City Council's three administrators.Minister for Local Government Barbara Perry yesterday announced Mrs Kibble's resignation and the appointment of a retired council chief, Richard Colley, to replace her. The resignation came less than two years into a four-year appointment, which was due to expire after local government elections in 2012.The two other administrators, Robert McGregor and Dr Col Gellatly, will remain in their positions. Mrs Kibble told the Mercury yesterday that she was "probably more busy than I had anticipated" since accepting positions as the chair of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission late last year and the chair of the western region Joint Regional Planning Panel in the middle of this year. She is also the chair of the NSW Heritage Council. "The major things which were part of my brief in Wollongong, largely speaking, are now achieved," she said."I think council is well equipped to go on and I certainly wish it well."Although she is leaving before two major planning documents - the Wollongong and West Dapto local environmental plans - have been gazetted by the Planning Department, she was confident neither would present any issues.Mrs Kibble said she made the decision to resign in the "latter part of this year".The Mercury understands she formally resigned before last week's final council meeting for 2009, despite the announcement not being made until yesterday.In an uncharacteristic slip-up during a post-council meeting press conference last week, Mrs Kibble referred to a development in Liverpool before quickly correcting herself to say Wollongong. Mrs Kibble was the administrator of Liverpool City Council until late last year.Mrs Kibble also revealed that the role of an administrator had not been easy in the aftermath of the Independent Commission Against Corruption's findings relating to the council."It was tough," she said. "It has been tough for the whole community of Wollongong. It has been a very unpleasant experience for everyone."I think it is very important for Wollongong to put it behind us and say we are a fantastic community and we will come out of this."Although she was proud of the progress on the city's LEP and West Dapto, saving the Wollongong Town Hall from demolition was her proudest achievement."I took a position fairly early that we can't get rid of the town hall," she said. "It is an item of heritage and we don't need more bleak open spaces. It has superb acoustics."Council general manager David Farmer thanked Mrs Kibble for her contribution through "an important period of rebuilding". "Wollongong has been extremely fortunate to benefit from the expertise and knowledge Gabrielle Kibble has brought to the city. Her contributions should not be underestimated," he said.Mr Farmer said she had encouraged council staff to create concise plans and documents and helped staff move forward from ICAC. Mrs Kibble's replacement, Mr Colley, was the commissioner of a public inquiry into Shellharbour City Council in 2008 that led to the council being dismissed and replaced with an administrator.He had a marketing background before taking up a position at Bankstown City Council in 1995 and was general manager at Bankstown from 1999 to 2007.

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