Councillor Leo Neill-Ballantine resigned from the council today.
Councillor Leo Neill-Ballantine resigned from the council today. Contributed

Leo Neill-Ballantine resigns from Gladstone council

COUNCILLOR Leo Neill-Ballantine stepped down from Gladstone Regional Council on Thursday for personal reasons.

A press release late Thursday said the councillor for the rural services portfolio had resigned.

Deputy Mayor Matt Burnett said the councillor would be missed.

"He was easy to work with and was passionate about his (rural) portfolio," he said.

"(But) I fully support Leo's position and I wish him and his family all the best."

Calliope's Desley O'Grady said she didn't know what the regional areas would do without him.

"I really hope that someone in our regional areas takes up his position," he said.

PJ Sobhanian, who narrowly missed out in 2012, was quick to express his interest in the vacant seat last night.

He said he was ready to take up the position.

"I was 100% committed then and I am 100% committed now," he said.

"Leo did a great job representing the regional areas and I will also be a councillor for the whole region."

Mr Sobhanian said he thought if he was lucky enough to be chosen he would work well with the sitting councillors.

Efforts to contact Mr Neill-Ballantine on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Council's chief executive officer Stuart Randle said Mr Neill-Ballantine's resignation was effective immediately and the processes would now start to fill the councillor position.

"The Local Government Act provides that vacancies at this stage of the council term do not require a by-election," he said.

"Council is required to advertise for nominations and will then appoint, by resolution, one of those people who nominate.

"The appointment must be made within 12 weeks of the resignation."

Council will advertise the position in mid-January, following the peak holiday season, to satisfy its statutory obligations, as well as using social media channels.

When nominations close, councillors will discuss the candidates in a closed meeting before an officer's report is presented to council's general meeting, most likely in early March.

The appointment of the new councillor will be a decision solely made by existing councillors.

The region's residents are only required to vote at the next full Local Government elections in March 2016.