Tag Archives: amalgamations

MAKE A SUBMISSION TO THE COUNCIL BOUNDARY REVIEW HERE!

You are encouraged to support your local council and make a submission on the proposed amalgamation of Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield Councils.

Click on this link to sign our sample submission and add your thoughts about the proposed amalgamation:

https://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/issue/save-marrickville-council/councilboundaryreviewsubmission/

GREENS CALL ON COUNCIL TO STAY STRONG ON MERGERS

Wed 11 November 2015

Marrickville Greens Councillors called on Inner West mayors to respect the resolutions of their Councils and continue to stand up against forced amalgamations, after the Councils adopted near identical resolutions that claim to resist amalgamations and to submit merger options under protest – with a view to them only being implemented if the Baird Government forces the issue.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “It’s clear that the vast majority of residents in the Inner West want their Council to stand alone and not merge and that’s the position that Marrickville Council took last night.”

The Greens voted against submitting a ‘Plan B’ merger for a Marrickville-Ashfield-Leichhardt Council, as the Greens believe that Councils should not be merged without a vote of affected residents.

Clr Ellsmore said, “The Greens are concerned that the Labor Mayors for Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield have given the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, the impression that our Councils wish to merge, when the resolutions adopted by all three Councils last night explicitly opposed any voluntary amalgamation.

“Local Councils belong to their residents, not Premier Mike Baird. The community should decide on any merger.

“The Liberal Government would like nothing more than to abolish progressive inner city Councils like Marrickville and Leichhardt. It is these Councils that have stood up to WestConnex and will look out for the communities’ interest as the State Government pushes for open slather for development in significant ‘growth corridors’ through the Inner West.

“It is deeply disappointing that Labor Councillors have backed a Plan B merger option and are actively promoting it in the media.

“Only last month they were making strong public statements they would stand up and fight for their Councils. What has changed?

“The Liberal Government does not have the power to sack financially sound and successful Councils like Marrickville, and they have created bogus size and scale criteria to create an excuse to merge Councils. The Greens will continue to fight against forced amalgamations and the right of communities to determine the future of their Councils,” Clr Ellsmore said.

The Greens were successful in amending the motion to conduct a community consultation on the proposed plan B merger with Leichhardt and Ashfield Councils. A copy of the motion passed is below.

More information:    Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

The formal statement from Marrickville Council outlining Council’s position can be found here: http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/newsandnotices/mediareleases/ashfield-leichhardt-and-marrickville-to-submit-joint-merger-preference/.

The Greens encourage residents to make their voices heard by:

For more information see the Save Marrickville Council campaign page.

Motion passed

10 Nov 2015: C1115 Item 1 MAYORAL MINUTE: COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO IPART ASSESSMENT AND THE NSW STATE GOVERNMENT’S ULTIMATUM TO COUNCILS

 

THAT: 

  1. Council reinforce to its community, staff and the NSW State Government that its preferred option is to stand alone and is fundamentally opposed to forced amalgamations;

 

  1. Given the legal predicament we now find ourselves in and the ultimatum issued by the NSW State Government, submit a first merger preference for Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield Council and a second merger preference for Marrickville and City of Sydney Council by 18 November 2015;

 

  1. Council signal strongly to the State Government that it will:
    1. immediately withdraw its merger preferences if the State Government does not proceed with forced amalgamations;
    2. not support an Inner West Council amalgamation proposition comprising Marrickville, Leichhardt, Ashfield, Burwood, Strathfield and Canada Bay Councils under any circumstances;

 

  1. Council urgently undertake a community engagement process to inform residents of the latest developments. The community engagement process must highlight that Marrickville Council’s ongoing preferred option is to stand alone, and provide a genuine opportunity for residents to consider and provide feedback on the potential benefits and risks of an amalgamated Marrickville-Leichhardt-Ashfield Council, including through a survey and community information sessions; and

 

  1. A report be provided back to the first Council meeting in 2016.

 

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/

Council considers legal options to challenge amalgamations

Media release, 21 October 2015

Marrickville Council is seeking urgent legal advice about its options to fight any attempt to sack or force a merger by the NSW Government, following a motion passed at its Council meeting at its October 2015 meeting.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore moved the motion, and said, “Marrickville Council does not support forced amalgamations. The community has told us it does not want Marrickville to merge with neighbouring Councils, and we will explore every avenue to protect our strong Council and the community services it provides.

“The IPART Assessment of Councils report released yesterday was no surprise. It found two thirds of Sydney Councils ‘unfit’ – not because they don’t have strong finances, but because they are smaller than the NSW Government wants.

“Marrickville and surrounding Councils, including Leichhardt, Ashfield and Strathfield – were found to meet all the criteria to be ‘fit’, except ‘scale and capacity’. Under the rigged criteria Marrickville Council could have a billion dollars in the bank and we would still have been found ‘unfit’, because we’d still be too small in the government’s eyes.

“Current NSW laws do not give the Minister the power to sack strong, functional Councils like Marrickville. The Minister also cannot change the boundaries of Councils (ie force mergers) without holding a public inquiry.

“However, with so few Sydney Councils taking up the State Governments pro-development amalgamation agenda, the release of the report has seen the State Government step up its threats about sackings.

“Prior to the release of the report yesterday morning, Liberal Premier Mike Baird held a web conference with Sydney Mayors at which he advised they had ‘one last chance’ to voluntarily merge.

“Only an hour later, upper house MPs for the Shooters and Fishers, Fred Nile, the Greens and the ALP were holding a press conference with the ‘Save our Councils’ coalition outside Parliament, confirming they would block any attempts to change legislation to force amalgamations. Without one of these groups the Liberal Government doesn’t have the power to change legislation in the NSW Parliament.

“The Government’s amalgamations agenda isn’t going to plan, and they know it. It is our responsibility as a Council to ensure that we are ready to act if the State Government does something stupid, like mass sackings of Councils. We will work with neighbouring Councils on legal options to challenge any action by the State Government to harm Councils outside the current laws,” Clr Ellsmore said.

More information:    Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Greens State Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge MLC 0408 113 952

 

What Marrickville Council passed

The amended text of the motion passed 20 October 2015 (Item 15):

That Council:

  1. Receive urgent legal advice as to its options to fight any decision or order made by the Minister for Local Government or Chief Executive of the Office of Local Government, to place Marrickville Council into administration pending forced amalgamation or implementation of the State Government’s Fit for the Future policy in respect of amalgamations;
  1. The legal advice should include:  a) Whether the findings of the IPART Report “Assessment of Council Fit for the Future” released on 20 October 2015 provide any grounds to the NSW Government to sack councils or force boundary changes;  b) Whether the State Government has any options to bypass or shortcut the public inquiry requirements of boundary changes; c) In the case where part or all of the Council was sacked, who would have standing ie the right to bring a court case, and what remedies would be available; d) If a sacked Council could access Council resources to undertake a challenge; and e) What are the prospects and risks of any action.
  1. Urgently liaise with other Sydney Councils about opportunities for coordinated legal and other options to fight any attempt by the NSW Government to sack Sydney Councils.

 

Highlights from the findings of the IPART ‘Assessment of Councils Fit for the Future Proposals’ released on 20 October 2015

Download a copy of the full report here: IPART Assessment of Councils

(At page 2) IPART assessed 87 Council proposals as not being fit for the future, which represents 63% of the proposals received.

Of the 87 proposals assessed as not fit, 60 were assessed as not having sufficient scale and capacity, but did meet the financial criteria [this includes Marrickville]

The main reasons for councils being assessed as not having sufficient scale and capacity included that “A merged entity could better integrate planning and development, resulting in improved planning decisions and enhanced economic growth.”

(at p9) IPART “assessed all Inner Metropolitan Sydney councils that had a preferred merger option, but submitted a stand-alone proposal, as not fit, as they did not meet the scale and capacity criterion.”

(at p 49) Details of the findings for the “Inner West” Councils are contained at 2.1.2 of the IPART Report, including proposed inner west merger map.

IPART found that “Ashfield, Leichhardt, Marrickville and Strathfield (are) not fit for the future as they did not meet the scale and capacity criterion although each Council met the financial criteria overall.

IPART accepted the independent modelling commissioned by these Councils [the Morrison Lowe Reports available on Marrickville Council’s website] and found $396 million in benefits from merging over 20 years spread across the 6 Councils. [The fine print on p283 reveals this figures “includes the full government grant”]

Independent modelling commissioned by IPART through Ernst & Lowe found a much lower figure of benefits – $194 million per annum over 20 years. [Divided between the 60 Councils that’s less than $2 million p/a each. That is less than 2% of Marrickville’s operating budget. Importantly, it is significantly less than Marrickville Council has already achieved in efficiency dividends itself over the last 3 years, and it matches or is less than further Marrickville Council is already on track to achieve under its current 10 year financial plan.]

The assessment table showing Marrickville Council meets the financial stability criteria is attached at p105.

The two page report on Marrickville Council specifically is included at p283.

Marrickville invited to appear at Local Government Inquiry

23 July 2015

Marrickville Council is one of only three Councils invited to appear at the Sydney hearing of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Local Government on Monday 27 July 2015, alongside Fairfeld and Mosman Councils. The hearing will take place from 9.00am to 5.30pm at NSW Parliament, with Marrickville Council due to appear at 2.15pm. See full hearing schedule HERE.

The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry was established by the upper house and includes Greens NSW Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge MLC . It has broad terms of reference including to examine the financial stability of local councils, and the costs and benefits of amalgamations, including evidence from other jurisdictions.

Marrickville Greens Councillors have successfully moved motions through Marrickville Council for Council to make a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry, and to provide tools to residents to make their own submissions. The Greens oppose forced amalgamations and want to keep Local Government local. Key reasons why the Greens do not want Marrickville Council to merge can be found HERE.

The Greens are also supporting the community campaign. At this week’s Council meeting a further Greens motion was formally adopted for Council to support the Save Our Councils coalition, a multi-partisan coalition of Councillors, Mayors and local community groups from across NSW which is fighting for the right of communities to decide what happens to their Councils.

Read the submissions

You can read a copy of Marrickville Council’s submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Local Government HERE.

You can also read the very detailed Marrickville Council submission to IPART, outlining why it does not want to merge into the “super inner west Council” as proposed HERE. Applying IPART’s own (flawed) criteria residents and Council would be worse off under nearly all of the measures. Council’s IPART submission and the Marrickville Council No Forced Amalgamations page link to the detailed independent modelling commissioned by Council (the “Morrison Low” reports) which further details how Council would be worse off.

Public submissions

The Parliamentary Inquiry is due to report on 17 August 2015 – before the report from IPART with its assessment of whether individual local councils are “fit for the future” is made to the NSW Government. The IPART report won’t be released to the public, so Councils won’t be told whether or why they’re being recommended for merger.

It’s too late to make a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry but residents can send a submission to IPART until 31 July 2015. You can do this through the IPART website – an email or letter is all that’s needed.

Get involved in the community campaign!

 

Public Meeting 10 June: No Forced Amalgamations

PUBLIC MEETING – Petersham Town Hall Wednesday 10 June 7.30pm
Come to the public meeting organised by Marrickville Council to hear why Marrickville is better off NOT amalgamating and why the State Government’s amalgamation process is FLAWED. 
The NSW Government wants Marrickville to amalgamate with Canada Bay, Ashfield, Burwood, Leichhardt and Strathfield – even though an overwhelming majority of the Marrickville community has said “NO” to amalgamation. Importantly also – detailed business modelling has been conducted by Council which clearly shows that Marrickville will be much worse off financially if amalgamated.  We stand to lose the LOCAL in local government and the sense of COMMUNITY in Marrickville.
Find out more at the meeting, or visit the Save Our Councils campaign pages:
The meeting has been organised following successful Greens motions through Marrickville Council. Read the 25 May 2015 media release from the Petersham-Newtown-Marrickville Greens at https://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/fight-against-mergers/

Marrickville steps up fight against forced mergers

Media release, 22 May 2015 

Marrickville Council has voted in favour of several Greens motions to step up Council’s fight against proposed amalgamations. The successful Greens’ motions (as attached) call on the State Government to urgently extend the rushed assessment process being applied to determine if Councils are ‘fit for the future’.

The motions also commit Council to organise urgent public meetings to explain how and why Marrickville Council is advocating that it remain independent. The first “town hall style” public meeting has been scheduled for 7.30pm, Wednesday 10 June at Petersham Town Hall.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore moved the motions, which received support from all but the Liberal Councillor. Clr Ellsmore said, “Council has recently undertaken a consultation with our residents to get their views on the proposed “super inner west” Council, which would see Marrickville merged with Leichhardt, Ashfield, Burwood, Canada Bay and Strathfield Councils.

“The results are in, and residents are overwhelmingly opposed to the amalgamation of Marrickville Council. With over 4000 residents participating in the survey, this is the second strongest response to a Council survey ever received. Residents care about protecting Marrickville Council, and they want us to remain the successful independent Council that we are now”, she said.

The results of the survey found nearly three quarters of residents oppose the mergers. This is despite around 40% of residents identifying with the “inner west” as much as with their local suburb.  The consultation follows detailed modelling by Marrickville Council commissioned from Morris Low that shows that Marrickville Council will be more financially stable and meet a higher number of the suggested assessment criteria if it remains stand alone.

Clr Ellsmore said, “Councils in NSW are facing several looming deadlines imposed by the State Government in the supposed ‘independent’ process to assess whether Councils should be merged.

“The State Government has appointed the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to develop criteria to test whether a Council is ‘fit’ or ‘unfit’, but these criteria fail to consider the criteria that residents care most about – such as whether Council delivers quality services or has the support of the community.

“It also sets arbitrary ‘scale’ criteria that suggest all small Councils like Marrickville Council will automatically fail the test, even if we meet all other criteria.

“The timelines for this assessment process are a joke. With submissions commenting on the assessment criteria due next week, IPART will have less than one week to consider Councils’ detailed submissions before finalising the assessment criteria. Councils will then have less than a month to respond to the final assessment criteria by the 30 June 2015 deadline.

“Does anyone really believe that IPART will be able to genuinely consider hundreds of details submissions, and respond, in one week? It appears this process is either set up to fail, or that the Liberal Government has already made its decision about forced amalgamations.

“No information has been provided to Councils about what will happen after IPART makes its final assessment, post 30 June 2015, about which Councils are ‘fit’ or ‘unfit’. Details of IPART’s reasons may not be publicly released, with suggestions that information will be sent straight to a secret Cabinet process for decision about whether or not to force the merger of Councils,” Clr Ellsmore said.

As a result of the Greens’ motions one or more public meetings will be held by the end of June and residents will be encouraged to make individual submissions in support of Council’s decision to stand alone. Meetings held in adjoining Councils have had strong attendance, with network of Councillors and residents across parties and areas developing to actively fight the amalgamations push.

For comment: Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Copies of the Community Engagement Report from the latest consultation of residents can be downloaded from the Council website at http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/elected-council/business-papers/ (Item 6, 19 May 2015 Council meeting)

Copies of the Morris Low ‘Fit for the Future – Shared Modelling’ Report comparing the business case for Marrickville Council as a standalone Council to the proposed innerwest Council can be downloaded from the Council’s website at http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/newsandnotices/local-government-amalgamations/

Or on the Marrickville Council page of the “No Forced Amalgamations” website established by Leichhardt Council about the joint modelling developed cooperatively across the inner west Councils – https://noforcedmergers.wordpress.com/
GREENS MOTIONS 19 May 2015, Marrickville Council

Item 5 – Fit for the Future – IPART

THAT:

  1. Council endorse the points raised in this report [the staff report] for the purposes of making a format submission to IPART by 25 May 2015.
  2. Council’s submission also highlights that the assessment criteria should be amended to:
    1. Drop the minimum population requirement of 250,000 being proposed for many metropolitan Councils;
    2. Include a criteria which provides for Councils to demonstrate how they are delivering scale through regional coordination (for example through SSROC);
    3. Include criteria to measure the scope and quality of services delivered by Local Councils; and
    4. Include criteria to measure community’s satisfaction with their Local Council.
  3. Council urgently write to the Premier and the Minister for Local Government expressing concern about the process, in particular the timeframes that will give IPART less than one week to consider Councils’ submissions before finalising the assessment criteria, and give Councils less than a month to respond to the final assessment criteria once it is released.

Item 6 – Fit for the Future Community Engagement Report

THAT:

  1. Council receives and notes the Community Engagement Report; and
  2. based on Community feedback, Council Officers develop the business case for Marrickville to be a stand-alone entity and present a summary of that case at the 9 June Council Meeting.
  3. Council organise one or more a public information meetings for residents before the end of June 2015 to provide information on Council’s updated position and the business case; and
  4. Council otherwise take steps to make this information accessible to local residents and to encourage residents to make individual submissions to the IPART Review in support of Council’s position.
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