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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Have your Say on the proposed Local Government Mergers

Public Consultation 6 May 2015 7PM, Henley Community Centre

In recent weeks, there has been a great deal of media coverage about the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future proposal which recommends widespread local government amalgamations between neighbouring Councils across metropolitan Sydney. If fully implemented, this would result in 41 Councils being reduced to 15.

The NSW Government is proposing a merger of Hunter’s Hill Council with the eastern two-thirds of Ryde, and all of Lane Cove, Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby Local Government Areas (LGA). Hunter’s Hill Council has repeatedly affirmed its opposition to ‘forced amalgamations’ but would prefer to pursue regional collaboration and a joint service delivery organisation.

We recognise that the success of the approach depends on the extent to which individual Councils choose to voluntarily merge or enter into arrangements with their neighbouring Councils.

By 30 June this year, Council must submit a Fit for the Future response and business case to be reviewed by an independent panel. The business case must show how we can meet a series of criteria including: Scale & Capacity (with the approximate scale being 200,000-250,000 residents per LGA), Financial Sustainability, Infrastructure Management and Efficiency.
There are some key issues that Hunter’s Hill Council will be campaigning for, such as retaining local representation, heritage and a sense of community. A public campaign on the issue (‘Keep Councils Local’) has been launched by Hunter’s Hill, Ryde, Lane Cove and Mosman Councils.

We don’t want our residents to lose their voice in local government. The proposed larger LGA will have a population of over 300,000 represented by a maximum of 15 councillors. If forced amalgamations go ahead, there will be fewer councillors representing larger populations. Our current seven Councillors would be reduced to just one at the most. The very essence of local government, namely its close connection with and responsiveness to its community, would be lost.

There is no empirical evidence to suggest that amalgamations of Councils will create financial savings, however we do want to ensure the principles of a strong financial position, efficient service delivery, a sense of community and a quality built and natural environment.

Over the coming weeks Council will seek to inform and get feedback from our local community about the advantages and disadvantages of all options Council is considering. It is equally important that we consult with our own community to determine the future of local government in our area.

I encourage you to join us at a public consultation session on Wednesday 6 May at Henley Community Centre, Crown Street, Henley commencing at 7pm. You will also be invited to respond to a community survey.

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