Murray Shire councillor Brian Sharp cited health reasons for his resignation on Monday.By Ruth Clayton
The shock resignation of Murray Shire councillor Brian Sharp was announced at this week’s council meeting.
Mayor Tom Weyrich addressed council at the start of Tuesday’s ordinary meeting in Mathoura and announced Cr Sharp, who served council for two weeks shy of 19 years, would be stepping down from his role as councillor, effective immediately, for health reasons.
A by-election to replace Cr Sharp is expected to be held in May.
Cr Sharp, who was mayor from 1996 to 2010, was absent from the meeting, but asked through Cr Weyrich for his privacy to be respected.
Cr Sharp handed his resignation letter to Cr Weyrich and general manager Greg Murdoch on Monday.
Cr Weyrich said it was fair to say Cr Sharp was not well.
‘‘His advice in relation to his health is that the added stress of council is not doing his health any good,’’ Cr Weyrich said.
‘‘For personal reasons, as well as his health, he has decided to resign from council.’’
In mid-2011, Cr Sharp was one of three people presented with an Emeritus Mayor’s Award, recognising long-serving and dedicated mayors.
In January, he was honoured with a NSW Shire’s Association long-service certificate.
Cr Weyrich said Cr Sharp’s almost 20 years serving the shire deserved accolades and Cr Sharp had done a ‘‘commendable job’’.
He said Cr Sharp deserved to be lauded and was saddened to hear of the resignation.
‘‘We have lost a valuable asset off council,’’ Cr Weyrich said.
The news came as a shock to many councillors, and Cr Sharp never publicly indicated any intention to resign as councillor.
In the period leading to last year’s September election, Cr Sharp said he would stand for another term, saying he still had a lot to offer the shire.
‘‘I believe I have experience and knowledge of local government and the local area,’’ Cr Sharp said at the time.
At the September election, Cr Sharp was elected to position three with 399 first preference votes — 11.22 per cent.
General manager Greg Murdoch said Cr Sharp had been a great asset to Murray Shire.
Cr Betty Murphy paid tribute to Cr Sharp’s time on council, having worked closely with him as his deputy mayor for five years.
‘‘He worked very, very hard for Murray Shire,’’ Cr Murphy said.
‘‘The loss of knowledge and contacts over the years is a great loss to this council.
‘‘It’s a tremendous loss in that respect.’’
Cr Sue Mulcahy said she valued Cr Sharp as a mentor and wished him well.
She also requested a formal acknowledgement be made of Cr Sharp’s contribution to council.
Cr Bill Anderson wished Cr Sharp well and Cr Gavin Burke thanked Cr Sharp for his time on council.
Cr Weyrich said an appropriate acknowledgement for Cr Sharp would be discussed.
Councillors Burke and Ian Moon have been pursuing Cr Sharp over an alleged conflict of interest relating to Maiden Smith Drive lot sizes.
Cr Sharp has maintained he has not had a conflict of interest in the matter.
At an October council meeting, Cr Burke asked council to launch an investigation into Cr Sharp due to the perceived conflict of interest.
It is not known what came of the request.
Cr Sharp moved to Echuca in 1972 with the Victoria Police and has lived in Moama since 1983.
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