Willoughby Council last night (Council Meeting of 29 March) resolved to not support the State Government’s three-council merger proposal of Willoughby City Council, Mosman Municipal Council and North Sydney Council. (Council had previously determined to support a Willoughby/North Sydney merger).
Council does not support a merger proposal which includes Mosman Municipal Council because of its high rates, concerns about its asset base and, in particular, limited community connectivity between Willoughby and Mosman.
Council also endorsed a submission based on research, data, publicly available information and community feedback, including that given by attendees at a Council-held Public Meeting on Monday 21 March and the two Public Inquiries held on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 March.
Authority has been delegated to the General Manager to finalise the submission by the closing date of 8 April.
On 25 February 2016 a new merger proposal for Willoughby, North Sydney and Mosman councils was released on the NSW government’s Council Boundary Review website. The new proposal resulted from the Minister for Local Government accepting the legitimacy of a community initiated boundary proposal to create a ‘Northern Beaches’ Council (Warringah, Pittwater and Manly).
The new proposal is separate to the State Government’s Willoughby/North Sydney merger proposal, which Council endorsed a submission for at its meeting on 22 February 2016. Council had previously indicated its preference for a Willoughby/North Sydney voluntary merger to the State Government in November 2015, as part of the Fit for the Future review.
The Willoughby/North Sydney Delegate, Ian Reynolds will also assess the Willoughby/North Sydney/Mosman proposal. The two proposals will be assessed independently of each other.
In addressing the three-council merger scenario to the inquiry Delegate, the submission:
- reflects community sentiment
- provides commentary on the veracity of estimated savings
- recommends due diligence for the merging entities to independently establish their financial, liability, risk and asset baselines at the time of the merger presents options to address community concerns regarding local representation which include options for the number of Wards and indicated Council’s preference.
Three different options for Ward boundaries are explored (covering four, five and six wards), taking into account competing factors including:
- creating completely news wards or wards that follow existing boundaries;
- the number of Councillors;
- creating wards with increased diversity versus wards with similar communities; and
- developing boundaries around Census, planning, infrastructure and transport factors.
Like the previous Willoughby/North Sydney proposal submission, this submission also makes recommendations regarding the unification of St Leonards and Roseville Chase. The St Leonards CBD and suburb are currently split across three councils, namely Willoughby, North Sydney and Lane Cove. Council seeks to unify the suburb within one local government area to improve strategic land use and infrastructure planning through the extension of the boundary to include that part of St Leonards currently contained in the Lane Cove Council. Residents in Roseville Chase could also be united in the one council area, if they wish.