January 9 - Strathfield Council rejects report’s merger recommendations

Thursday, 9th January, 2014

9 January 2014

Strathfield Council has rejected the recommendations of a State Government-commissioned report, which suggests Strathfield Council should merge with Burwood, Ashfield, Canada Bay, Marrickville, and Leichhardt.

The amalgamation proposal is contained in the Local Government Review Panel’s final report, released today.

Strathfield Mayor Daniel Bott said such a move would clearly not be in the interests of Strathfield residents.

"The critical mistake this report makes is believing amalgamation is a one-size-fits-all solution. It is not," Cr Bott said.

"At no stage during this long and drawn-out report process has anyone bothered to explain to the residents of Strathfield how amalgamating with five other surrounding councils could possibly be in their interests.

"Polling indicates that some 70 per cent of Strathfield residents are opposed to any form of merger. Strathfield has its own carefully cultivated identity and the majority of its residents rightly wish to manage their own area. Taking control away and handing it to a remote super council authority would be a disaster locally.”

Cr Bott said while the recommendations of the report were disappointing, the stance of the State Government appeared to have shifted.

"While the recommendations contained in this report are impractical and poorly reasoned, my fellow councillors and I have been heartened by the apparent change in tone from the State Government," Cr Bott said.

"We now have Ministers on the record categorically ruling out any forced amalgamations. And in a recent interview with the Strathfield Scene, the Premier was at pains to put distance between himself and the report's findings. While it is disappointing to chalk this whole process up as a costly waste of time, it is at least better than committing to its flawed recommendations.

"Although it is far too early to call the proposed amalgamation of Strathfield as dead and buried, residents can take considerable comfort from the fact that their Council's position remains steadfast: we want Strathfield to remain independent."

The report is available on the Division of Local Government’s website at www.dlg.nsw.gov.au.

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