Strathfield considers entering Joint Organisations as alternative to amalgamation

Strathfield Council is considering forming a new Joint Organisation with Ashfield, Burwood, Canada Bay, Leichhardt and Marrickville in a bid to stave off council amalgamations.

At an extraordinary meeting, council discussed the Office of Local Government’s Joint Organisations Emerging Directions Paper which recommended that Strathfield join its Inner West neighbours in a Joint Organisation.

It comes on the eve of the release of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report to the state government on council amalgamations.

It is expected to recommend forced mergers, and many opponents in Strathfield are braced for bad news.

A council paper suggested a submission on the Emerging Directions document would include a Joint Organsation with the councils named in an indendent report on local government presented in 2013.

During the debate, councillors Gulian Vaccari and Helen McLucas disagreed over the level of co-operation,  with Cr Vaccari saying that Strathfield needs a back up plan if council amalgamations go ahead.

“State government has ruled them out for urban councils, but Hunters Hill, Ryde and Lane Cove have submitted one as their response to amalgamation.

“My point is that we need a plan B on amalgamation, and in the absence of a Plan B the local government minister may very well do as he pleases with Strathfield which may very well involve amalgamating us with Auburn, Canada Bay and Burwood- something we will continue to fight till the death of course.

“Joint Organisations allow councils to maintain their identity, but share non customer facing back room functions, something I think most of our residents would be in favour of if it meant increased efficiencies.”

In the report released by the Office of Local Government, it outlines how the Inner West will have a projected population of 432,400and that there needs to bebetter economic and social links between the councils.

The recommendation also says that there needs to be a unified local government to plan and manage Parramatta Road, the impact and integration of WestConnex, Inner West development as well as proposing that Burwood be at the centre of the Joint Organisation.

But Cr McLucas argued that if Strathfield starts any discussions with other councils, it would mean giving up.

“We have to stay strong. Ifwe start going into talks now with other councils, it will be a sign to the state government that we are giving up.

“There shouldn’t be a plan b. We need to show our message right up till the very end.”

While council will support the establishment of a Joint Organisation, it will also point out that the report does not address the relationship between decisions of individual councils and decisions of a Joint Organisation.


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