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Parramatta Lord Mayor, Paul Garrard. Parramatta Lord Mayor, Paul Garrard. Featured
21 December 2015 Posted by 

HOW COUNCIL MERGERS IMPACT WEST

Parramatta slams "political farce"

By Di Bartok

“A FARCE, a political farce” is how Parramatta Lord Mayor Paul Garrard has described the State Government’s planned forced mergers of councils.

An Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review found nearly two-thirds of the state's councils were not "fit for the future".

So, under the Baird Government’s Fit for the Future proposal, 45 Sydney councils will be reduced to 25 councils.

A new Local Government Act will include a new power for the minister to appoint a financial controller to a non-performing council deemed at high financial risk.

But the amalgamations will be dealt with through the old act, which means there will need to be public hearings by the Boundaries Commission which will be re-constituted. The process will take at least six months and may require a delay in the local government elections due in September.

In Western Sydney, most councils remain the same or have expanded, with Holroyd and parts of Auburn merging, with Parramatta also taking part of Auburn

Clr Garrard slammed the move to remove Granville and include the whole of Epping as well as Olympic Park to Parramatta City LGA as a strategy to make Sydney’s second CBD a safe Liberal enclave.

Woodville Ward, which takes in Granville and parts of Merrylands, is to go to a combined Auburn-Holroyd council.

Clr Garrard has represented Woodville Ward, first as Labor member from 1974-2004 and from then on as an independent supporting the Liberal side of the chamber - which is why he is a bit sore about having his power base taken away.

“Granville has been part of Parramatta for 70 years - it has that history and connection, it is part of the fabric of Parramatta,” Clr Garrard told WSBA.

“In our Fit for the Future submission, we made it clear that the present Parramatta Council boundaries would allow for plenty of growth.”

Clr Garrard said he always felt that councils would benefit not from mergers but rather from sharing resources to become more efficient.

Clr Garrard’s sentiments were echoed by Labor councillors James Shaw and Glenn Elmore, who represents Woodville ward.

“The removal of the Woodville ward and the taking in of parts of the Hills, Hornsby and Olympic park is about establishing a Liberal Party council, to manage the CBD of Western Sydney,” Clr Shaw said.

Clr Elmore said the changes “have been written by Liberal Party strategists”. “The independent experts have been ignored," he said.

“The Liberal Party has relied on Clr Garrard's vote three times in order to get support for Mayor, then they change the boundaries to remove him," Clr Elmore said. “This is about Alex Hawke and his right-wing faction of the Liberal Party taking control.”

Clr Shaw said he was concerned the Baird Government was using this merger to “push its agenda of overdevelopment of our suburbs”.

But, while disappointed about losing Granville, Parramatta Council is happy to have grabbed the Hornsby shire part of Epping as well as Olympic Park and Wentworth Pt - an acquisition that will drive jobs.

If approved, the Government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ boundary proposals would see the Parramatta Local Government Area expanded slightly to encompass parts of the Hills, Hornsby, and Auburn council areas, and a small section of the Holroyd LGA.

Under the proposals, The Hills will merge with Hawkesbury, but will lose Carlingford, North Rocks and all of Winston Hills to Parramatta.

But not all Western Sydney councils are facing mergers, with Penrith, Liverpool, Blacktown, Fairfield and Campbelltown standing alone.

Liverpool mayor Ned Mannoun said his council’s $12 million turnaround in finances and the vision it had for its future helped it stand alone.

In announcing the proposed changes on December 18, Premier Mike Baird said the reforms were an important part of "how we make NSW sustainable", but conceded they would not be easy.

He said the target population size for the proposed merged Sydney councils was 150,000.

"We have certainly ensured that there is an approach that says it's not one size fits all," Mr Baird said.

"There are nuances that we need to understand — community characteristics, amenity, individual council and stakeholders' views."

Changed councils

●    Parramatta loses Granville, gains Epping, North Rocks, Carlingford, Winston Hills, part of Auburn, Olympic Park and Wentworth Pt.
●    Holroyd merges with Auburn, Parramatta’s Woodville Ward goes to new council.
●    Hills merges with Hawkesbury, loses North Rocks, Carlingford, Winston Hills.



editor

Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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