After protesting for a number of years that Willoughby Council opposed amalgamations, this week the same Council voted to voluntarily merge with North Sydney Council !!!
This move came after renewed pressure from the State Government.
Some Willoughby Councilors opposed to amalgamation argued that based on the results of community consultation, residents are not in favour of amalgamation. The same statistics were used by others to prove that residents favoured some form of amalgamation.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the motion to voluntarily merge with North Sydney Council. Clrs Coppock and Saville were on leave. Clr Stevens was absent, having left the meeting early.Clr. Wendy Norton removed herself from the Chamber before the vote was taken and returned after the vote. Clr. Saville has subsequently indicated that she would support voluntary amalgamation. Clrs. Poccock and Stevens were asked if they support the motion. No responses has been received.
A recent letter sent to Councils by the Premier and the Minister of Local Government appears to contain veiled threats that Councillors who do not support voluntary amalgamations may suffer the consequences. Councillors who vote in favour of amalgamation have been promised that they will remain in office until their term expires in September 2016. Subsequently it has been determined that all Councilors on a Council who voted to voluntarily amalgamate will retain their seats.
An illogicality about the decision by Willoughby Council to amalgamate with North Sydney is that the State Government has mandated that voluntary amalgamations must address its ‘scale & capability’ metrics. To meet these metrics, Willoughby Council would need to merge with Mosman, North Sydney, Lane Cove, Hunter’s Hill and part of Ryde Council. So Willoughby Council’s decision is a real ‘paper tiger’.
An opportunity was lost by Willoughby Council to broker an arrangement whereby the neighbouring Councils could work together to achieve the State Government’s objectives without the need to amalgamate (such a model has been offered to rural, regional and remote Councils)..
The Premier has previously promised that Councils will be advised of their fate before the end of the year.