Crunch time – Help save Marrickville Council

On 10 November 2015 an Extraordinary Marrickville Council meeting will be held to determine whether Council should “volunteer” to amalgamate as part of a new mega inner-west Council.

The Greens think residents should decide what their local councils look like. The Greens call on Labor and Liberal Councillors to stand up to the Liberal Government and vote for no mergers without community support!

Make your voice heard and sign the Petition to Save Marrickville Council.

If you live in the Marrickville Local Government Area you can also email councillors@marrickville.nsw.gov.au to raise your concerns about amalgamation directly with all of your local Councillors.

What is proposed for Marrickville Council?

Despite community opposition, the Baird government continues to push ahead with its plans for forced amalgamations across NSW. The NSW Government has told Marrickville Council it should amalgamate into a mega inner west Council, because it has been assessed as “unfit” by IPART.

The IPART Assessment of Councils found Marrickville Council to be a financially strong Council, but “unfit” because it too small. 71% of Sydney Councils – including City of Sydney – were found “unfit” because they are too small. Small Councils (the government claims) create too much “red tape” for government and developers.

The State Government had originally proposed that Marrickville Council merge with five other Councils to create a mega inner west Council with a population of 400,000. With none of the inner west Councils supporting this option, IPART has now suggested a merger of 3 or more Councils for Marrickville.

 

2015-11 Merged inner west Council image from website (3)

Crunch time – 10 November 2015 Extraordinary Council meeting

On 10 November 2015 the elected Marrickville Councillors will debate whether to put a voluntary merger option to the NSW Government.

Despite the State Government not having the power to sack Councils, some Labor and Liberal Councillors have suggested that Marrickville Council must consider voluntarily merging. They have proposed a merger between Marrickville-Leichhardt-Ashfield or potentially other Councils. See the Labor and Liberal proposals contained in the 10 November 2015 Council papers here.

If Council “volunteers” to merge, more powers are triggered for the Minister to suspend Council if he wishes. A public process may be held to consult with residents –  but the Minister does not need to listen to residents if they reject the proposed merger option!

This could mean no elected Council to stand up on issues like WestConnex and an uncertain future for the services and support that Marrickville Council provides.

Elected Councillors need to stand up for the residents who voted for them. The Councillors of Marrickville were democratically elected to serve their constituents and the Greens believe all Councillors should stand up to empty State Government threats.

What’s wrong with amalgamations?

Local Democracy – The Greens believe the community should decide what their Councils should looks like. Nearly 75% of residents voted against merging when consulted about amalgamations in 2015. Residents have asked Council to remain independent.
The Greens believe any new proposal to change Council boundaries must first go to the community to receive their support. The Liberal Government has set a deadline of one month for new merger options – no community consultation is proposed.
Services – The people of Marrickville appreciate the services and advocacy delivered by Marrickville Council. Marrickville Council spends more of its income directly back on residents than any other Council in NSW.
There is no evidence that services improve when councils are amalgamated. In fact, specialised services that our community loves so much, such as Council run-childcare & community festivals, will be threatened.
More efficient? – Local Councils aren’t wealthy, but they are – actually – very efficient. They have to be. Over the last few years State and Federal Government have withdrawn more and more grant funding across the board, and asked Council to pick up the slack. This includes, for example, cutting Meals on Wheels funding, reduced funding to maintain roads, and charging new fees for the use of public school buildings for subsidised childcare.
Under the amalgamation plans most estimated savings are proposed by “efficiencies” that involve sacking or outsourcing staff, or reducing services to the lowest common denominator across the merged Councils.
Cost – The cost of amalgamations will be many millions of dollars, rates are likely to increase (as happened in Victoria, Queensland and Auckland) and individual ratepayers will inevitably get less access to their local Councillors if mega-councils are created.

Does Baird have the power to sack Councils

No. Legal advice has been released which clearly shows that the Liberals need new legislation to sack Councils. This is why they are pushing the “voluntary” option. Read detailed legal advice on the website of David Shoebridge MLC.

What is IPART and “Fit for the Future” anyway?

IPART is the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. It sets special rates variations for councils
and is not independent of Government. The State Government asked IPART to assess all Councils as
to whether they were “fit for the future”, in terms of financial sustainability and size.

The Greens believe that the recent IPART report into local councils involved a flawed process that gave a rigged outcome. It recommended that of the 152 statewide councils, 103 councils merge, even though the vast majority were assessed as being financially ‘fit’. A NSW Parliamentary Inquiry has recommended that the government reject IPART’s findings.

Want to know more?

Save Marrickville Petition http://www.jennyleong.org/marrickville_council

Marrickville Council’s website http://yoursaymarrickville.com.au/amalgamations-and-marrickville

No Forced Amalgamations website which includes a summary of the business modelling undertaken by each of the six inner-west Councils  https://noforcedmergers.wordpress.com/

Save Marrickville Council campaign page with details of the community consultation undertaken to date https://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/issue/save-marrickville-council/

Save Our Councils statewide community campaign http://www.saveourcouncilsnsw.com/

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