Strathfield could face merger threat - report

The State Government is reportedly considering giving its backing to a report which calls for amalgamations of councils in the Inner West, with speculation that Strathfield, Ashfield and Burwood could be on the block.

According to The Daily Telegraph’s state political editor Andrew Clennell, Local Government Minister Don Page considers the current 152 councils unsustainable.

As reported on Ourstrathfield last week, an independent panel on restructuring councils is expected to report in March, and could outline which councils should merge.

Strathfield Mayor Gulian Vaccari said today: “Consistent with the recent election, when all candidates campaigned against amalgamations, Strathfield councillors are united in our opposition against any amalgamations or mergers."

Councillors Helen McLucas and Raj Datta have already expressed their concern at the news, and Burwood and Ashfield’s mayors maintain co-operation and shared services will work better than forced mergers.

At an Inner West Cabinet Forum last night, Premier Barry O’Farrell was equivocal on mergers, saying he had appointed a group of experts to examine the subject.

But forced mergers would be a huge about-face for the government. O’Farrell and his ministers had a position that they would support mergers only where they were voluntary.

 According to The Daily Telegraph, Page told the paper: "It's not an option to stay as we are - we have to change in order to be sustainable into the future.

"They're (the panel's) saying with a population in Sydney of 7 million by the middle of this century, we (will) have councils (in Sydney) that have as few people as 18,000 and some 481,000. That'll make it difficult for Sydney as a whole to present a co-operative strategic view on issues to state and federal governments.”

The Telegraph claims councils which could face mergers include Ashfield, Burwood and Strathfield; Manly and Warringah; Gosford and Wyong; Hunters Hill and Lane Cove; Mosman and North Sydney; Botany Bay and Randwick.

"This is an independent panel and I set it up ... not just the government (but with) the Local Government and Shires Association," Page told the paper. "I'll be taking their recommendations very seriously."

Vaccari said: “One of the main pro-amalgamation arguments out there at the moment states that councils do not have sufficient long-term financial capacity.

“At Strathfield this isn’t the case at all – all our programs and activities are community driven and recent feedback from our community indicates that we are meeting the community’s needs. Importantly, we are achieving this in a financially sustainable manner – our financial track record speaks for itself.

“So the question is, why change something that isn’t broke?”  


Comments

What about Jobs, what about residents having their say and being heard. Residents will lose their democratic rights to oppose matters concerning them. eg developers creating ugly and money making ventures to suit themselves. They have tried it in Queensland and Victoria, it didn't work. Rates have increased two fold and residents are crying out for a return to their old council. They are now in the process of trying to reverse them.

AMALAMATION DOES NOT WORK........ Think of the cost, not only increased rates, but council workers losing their jobs.

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