In October 2014, the NSW Government released its ‘Fit for the Future’ program which impacts the way all NSW councils operate. The program proposed to merge 41 Sydney metropolitan councils into 18, in response to the findings in the Independent Local Government Review Report (October 2013).
All NSW Councils have been invited by the NSW Government to respond to the criteria outlined in the ‘Fit for the Future’ program by 30 June 2015. The ‘Fit for the Future’ (FFF) program has proposed that Strathfield Council amalgamate with Ashfield, Burwood, Canada Bay, Leichhardt and Marrickville Councils to create an Inner West Council of about 350,00 residents. The FFF program required Councils to:
- Review and assess their viability against a range of financial and capacity benchmarks including scale and capacity
- Make a submission regarding the future direction of the Council by 30 June 2015
- Make the transition to a new structure by September 2016 or implement an improvement plan, subject to the approval of the NSW Government.
The Panel’s report to the NSW Government in October 2013 proposed amalgamating Strathfield Council with Ashfield, Burwood, Canada Bay, Leichhardt and Marrickville Councils, or establishing a Joint Organisation made up of the six councils with specific regional functions with no changes to the existing councils.
Strathfield Council's Options
Under the Fit for the Future program, Council has two options which may satisfy the State Government’s requirements:
1. SUPPORT the proposed amalgamation of Strathfield Council with Ashfield, Burwood, Canada Bay, Leichhardt and Marrickville Councils; or 2. PROPOSE a superior alternative which would involve no amalgamation of Strathfield Council but address scale and capacity requirements which includes establishing a Joint Organisation approach for strategic planning, delivery of services and advocacy on a regional basis.
Submissions to Fit for the Future
Council submissions to IPART closed on 31 July 2015. An information pack sets out Council's position and provides information on the submission process.
A copy of Council's proposal and the public submissions received by IPART can be read here.
Strathfield Council made the following submissions:
- Bankstown Council Fit for the Future submission - proposal for boundary changes affecting Strathfield Council boundaries 'south of Cooks River'. Read Council's submission
- Auburn Council - Burwood Council - Canada Bay Council merger proposal - comments on the merger proposal. Read Council's submission
- Parramatta Council Fit for the Future submission - proposal to expand Parramatta Council boundaries for land 'west of Homebush Bay Drive'. Read Council's submission
IPART assessed the Council submissions and provide the Minister for Local Government and the Premier with a final report by October 2015 identifying whether or not each council is Fit for the Future and outline the reasons for this assessment. The assessments will be publicly released following Cabinet approval.
Councils will then be required to make the transition to a new structure by September 2016 or implement an improvement plan, subject to the approval of the NSW Government.