Shire looks to lease city office

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SOME of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s planning staff and senior executives may soon be operating out of an office in central Melbourne.

The shire’s CEO Carl Cowie told The News on 31 August that “there is nothing to report regarding a Shire office in central Melbourne”.

But one day later (1 September), in his regular Friday email to shire staff, Mr Cowie described sitting in an Uber “waiting to get on the Monash [Freeway]” on his way to a meeting in the Melbourne CBD with “the exec team”.

(He also praised the benefits of having a tablet, or hand held computer, “so you can really get your work done anywhere”.)

Exactly one week before (25 August) Mr Cowie’s email to staff said “we have received some pricing for what could be a good first site for a shire planning presence in the CBD”.

“I will be inviting several key officers for a look at the office space on Friday 1 September.”

The shire’s media department did not respond when asked by The News on the office inspection day: “Is the shire planning, or investigating, having an office in or near central Melbourne?”

The quotes attributed to Mr Cowie the previous day also included: “Any such decision [about a Melbourne CBD office] would require Council approval.”

Councillors have been briefed about problems faced by the shire in retaining qualified planning staff and the offer of a city office is seen as a “perk” to persuade them to stay.

One councillor some years ago told The News that cars were required to attract “bright young things” to the shire from the city.

A city office might also prove beneficial to executives who do not reside on the peninsula, even though they knew the position they applied for was based in Rosebud, Mornington or Hastings.

First published in the Western Port News – 12 September 2017

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