Wide Bay Water board chairman decision splits council

THE first public cracks are beginning to appear in the Fraser Coast Regional Council as councillors split over the Wide Bay Water debacle.

A defiant Cr Rolf Light withheld his vote at Wednesday's election for a new water board chair.

Councillors James Hansen, Chris Loft and Darren Everard refused to endorse new leader Cliff Searle, opting instead to throw their support behind Randall McLellan.

Cr Light's stance was in protest at what he believed was mismanagement by the Fraser Coast Regional Council of the WBWC board.

It followed his resignation from the water and wastewater portfolio last week, a decision coming on the back of three board sackings or resignations in one month.

Yesterday, Cr Light said he had lost faith in the direction the council, as sole shareholder of WBWC, was taking the corporation.

"My decision in no way reflects personal capabilities of any individual. However, it is the overall direction of the overall governance management of the board of Wide Bay Water where my concerns lie," Cr Light said.

"I believe we are repeating the same mistakes and I hold grave fears for the community and the wellbeing of Wide Bay Water staff."

The beginnings of a council split heaps further embarrassment on the council over its clumsy handling of the botched takeover of WBW.

But Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said he did not share Cr Light's concerns and was confident the council and the water service were on the right track.

"I think quite the opposite. I think certainly we have got a progressive and positive way forward. I'm looking forward to working with the new board and with the management and the staff of Wide Bay Water," Cr O'Connell said.

He said he could not understand why the vote was not unanimous given all board members were endorsed to their positions by the current crop of councillors.

"It's a little bewildering that people are saying something a little different now, and I've always wondered about abstention votes because abstention votes become no votes."

Councillors Everard and Hansen are out of the country on holidays.

Cr Loft denied his vote for Mr McLellan was for reasons other than that he was the best candidate.

Cr Light said he believed the time had come for professionals with top-level boardroom experience to be appointed to the WBWC board.

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