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Independence or Amalgamation?

Posted Thursday 26 February 2015

The NSW Government requires all Councils in NSW to show by 30 June 2015 how they intend to operate in the future under its ‘Fit for the Future’ program.

In particular we have to respond to the recommendation of the Independent Local Government Review Panel supported by the NSW Government that Mosman should merge with five other councils: North Sydney, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill, Willoughby and two-thirds of Ryde council.

Under the ‘Fit for the Future’ program, councils are expected to demonstrate scale, strategic capacity and financial sustainability.

It is not clear that scale is a sensible stand alone criterion. And strategic capacity is defined in terms of 10 amorphous and unquantifiable concepts such as “Knowledge, creativity and innovation” and “Advanced skills in strategic planning and policy development”.

Importantly there is no evidence that larger councils are more financially sustainable than small councils. One reason is that small councils can have effective partnership arrangements as Mosman has extensively with the Northern Beaches group of councils known as SHOROC and other councils.

The Mosman community has long opposed amalgamation. In the 2012 election, 81% of voters opposed amalgamation with any other area.

At Council’s meeting on 17 February 2015, Council confirmed its strong opposition to forced amalgamations. Notwithstanding, Council agreed that the community be asked to review four options: continued independence, a ‘mega merger’ of the six councils proposed by the ILGRP, and a merger with either neighbouring council, North Sydney or Manly.

Council is holding a public meeting on Monday 9 March and circulating a flyer to gauge your views on these options.

Please let us know your views on the future of Mosman. Your views will be an important input to our response to the NSW Government.