Council Decided 17 February 2015

Posted Friday 20 February 2015

Mayoral Minute – Independence, Amalgamation and Fit for the Future

Mayor Abelson delivered a Mayoral Minute on Independence, Amalgamation and the approach to the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future initiative.

Since the last update provided at the 16 December 2014 Council meeting Council has actively engaged on this issue, including the following activities:

  • 19 January 2015: Meeting of the Independent Mosman Committee attended by Councillors and community members.
  • 27 January 2015: Councillor workshop on Fit for the Future options and opportunities held with all Councillors present.
  • 5 February 2015: Participation by all Councillors at a Fit for the Future Councillor Forum at Chatswood convened by Mosman, North Sydney, Willoughby, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Ryde and Ku-ring-gai Councils.
  • 10 February 2015: Participation by the Mayor at the Sydney Metropolitan Mayors Association Executive meeting.
  • 12 February 2015: Participation by the Mayor, the General Manager and Councillor Corrigan at the joint meeting of SHOROC and NSROC in Chatswood to discuss sub-regional planning.

Considerable time has been spent examining options and determining the best way to engage the community on this most significant issue for Mosman’s future. Many more meetings are likely as Council work towards responding to the State government’s Fit for the Future deadline of 30 June 2015.

The 5 February meeting of councillors of the six councils plus Ku-ring-gai was of special importance to Mosman Councillors. All seven Mosman Councillors attended – a 100% attendance record and the most of any of the Councils participating. This demonstrates the importance of the issue and this Council’s commitment to full consideration of opportunities at hand.

At this Forum, 32 of the attending councillors registered votes on several key questions. Over 90% of these councillors voted against the proposed amalgamation of Mosman, North Sydney, Willoughby, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and (part) Ryde Councils.

A large majority supported an independent review of the proposed amalgamation. The purpose of this review is to test the case for the proposed merger, given that neither the Independent Local Government Review Panel (ILGRP) nor the State government has provided any form of business case whatsoever to demonstrate the value of the merger to the councils or communities involved. If the review produces some options for cooperation between some or all of the councils, Council will engage with any such options.

Mosman Council has been and remains an active member for many years of the Northern Beaches group of councils (Pittwater, Warringah, Manly and Mosman) known as SHOROC. This has been a highly effective regional organisation and has delivered many of the kinds of benefits and strategic outcomes that the ILGRP has claimed could be obtained via amalgamation.

At the meeting on 17 February Council resolved unanimously to seek the views of the Mosman community on the following options:

1. Maintain Mosman’s Independence and continue to work collaboratively with other councils, especially with SHOROC

This option supports retention of Mosman as a stand-alone local government area, with its own locally-elected Council and local service delivery.

The option acknowledges that Mosman Council can achieve effective cross-border collaboration with other councils without the need to merge organisations.

It rejects proposals for amalgamation with other councils, including the lower north shore grouping proposed by the State Government.

2. The proposal for a ‘mega merger’ of Mosman, North Sydney, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill, Willoughby and (part) Ryde Councils

This option has been put forward by the ILGRP and the State government as having appropriate ‘scale and capacity’.

It presupposes the amalgamation of the administration and governing bodies of the six councils into one centralised organisation.

This option has been rejected by the councils involved.

3. Possible Mosman Council merger with an adjoining Council, namely (a) North Sydney or (b) Manly

These options would also result in the creation of one organisation including a single administration and governing body.

Mosman has not approached either North Sydney or Manly Council. Nor has either Council indicated its support for this option.

However, it is important that Mosman Council can provide the NSW Government with a clear statement on these lesser amalgamations as well as on the proposed mega merger in case one or other becomes an issue.

At the 2012 local government elections 81.3% of voters registered opposition to the amalgamation of Mosman Council with any other local government authority.

It is important that Council and the community address the specific alternatives to continued independence. Engaging the community on the above options will vitally assist Council in assessing current community sentiment on the issue of amalgamation.

A program of community engagement is to commence on 25 February 2015 for a period of four to six weeks. The program will include the following:

  • An information brochure letterboxed to local households and business
  • Prominent information on Council’s website
  • Information available at the Civic Centre and Library
  • A public meeting chaired by the Mayor in the Council Chambers on Monday 9 March 2015 commencing at 7.00 pm
  • Use of social media
  • Newspaper advertisements and media releases

Active Transport to Schools Program

Council considered a report on a proposed Active Transport to Schools Program. The report detailed the costs and benefits of such a program and the respective roles and responsibilities of Council, schools and parents. In an acknowledgement of these roles, Council resolved to undertake consultation with schools and parents to determine if they would like to participate in an Active Transport to Schools Program.