10/02/2010 - 15:28

Councils reject amalgamation focus

10/02/2010 - 15:28

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The Western Australia Local Government Association has requested an urgent meeting with the state government over its "rigid" amalgamation plans, as more than 100 councils reaffirmed a vote of no confidence in the planned reform process.

The Western Australia Local Government Association has requested an urgent meeting with the state government over its "rigid" amalgamation plans, as more than 100 councils reaffirmed a vote of no confidence in the planned reform process.

The request follows yesterday's gathering of more than 400 local government representatives who all convened to express their dissatisfaction with Local Government Minister John Castrilli.

WALGA president Bill Mitchell said the one-sided approach for amalgamations being used effectively ignored the wishes of local government and communities.

"The current process merely pays lip service to engaging with representatives of local government," he said.

"The minister is truly mistaken if he believes the reform process is 'on track', and unless he provides the means for genuine discussion and planning, there is a danger the process will entirely derail."

Yesterday, Mr Castrilli said the amalgamation process was voluntary, and congratulated local governments that had chosen to merge.

He also encouraged other councils to consider the benefits of amalgamation.

The state government plans to reduce the number of local councils from 139 to less than 100 in five years.

Mr Mitchell said while local governments were committed to a reform process, they wanted flexibility in solutions.

"Local governments have invested time and money in addressing the minister's requests, consulting with their communities in order to establish their wishes and the best opportunities for change," he said.

"The minister's preoccupation with amalgamations, however, has shown little regard for this work, and is misrepresenting the wishes of many local communities and their voices through a democratic process."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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