09/02/2015 - 12:15

UPDATE: WALGA calls for mergers to be scrapped

09/02/2015 - 12:15

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UPDATE: WALGA calls for mergers to be scrapped

UPDATE: The Western Australian Local Government Association has called on the state government to abandon its local council amalgamations,  saying the process has become unravelled in the wake of three merger proposals being rejected after residents were polled over the weekend.

WALGA president Troy Pickard said if the state government were to follow through on its plan to cut the number of local governments from 30 to 16 it would result in a two-tiered system to the detriment of councils and communities.

Mr Pickard said the association's support for the plan was predicated on a clear vision, fully funded and carried out through a consistent approach.

"This process has become completely unravelled and we cannot carry on with the remnants," Mr Pickard said.

“When you consider the effect of remaining boundary adjustments, orphan suburbs, questions around the proposed City of Perth Act and the fact some councils will actually reduce in size, this process is clearly no longer delivering on its objectives.

 The amalgamation plan hit a major stumbling block over the weekend, polls recording a majority of ratepayers in opposition to mergers of Cockburn and Kwinana, Fremantle and East Fremantle and Victoria Park and South Perth.

The polls were held in East Fremantle, South Perth and Kwinana, with the results potentially thwarting the proposal to cut the number of local government authorities from 30 to 16.

In the City of South Perth, more than 77 per cent of respondents voted to block the merger with the Town of Victoria Park to create the City of South Park.

“Our community have come out loud and clear and said ‘no’ to an amalgamation,” City of South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty said.

However, the city received back just under 51 per cent of voter packages, only just beating the required 50 per cent of residents responses needed to make the vote valid.

The Kwinana vote was more emphatic, with 87 per cent of respondents voting against merging with Cockburn, with 53 per cent of ratepayers voting, an all-time high in the history of the City of Kwinana's local government polls.

Around 75 per cent of Town of East Fremantle voters were in opposition of the proposed merger with the City of Fremantle, with 54 per cent of East Freo's ratepayers responding to the poll.

City of Fremantle chief executive Graeme Mackenzie called on the state government to provide guidance on the process following the results.

“What these poll results mean is that the state government will now have to decide whether to completely unravel what it has done to date or march on as best it can with a longer-term view,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“Like the rest of metropolitan Perth, we are waiting for clear direction from government, direction we have been seeking for a number of months but to date has been severely lacking with most of our questions going unanswered.”

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said he was disappointed ratepayers in the affected areas would not realise the benefits amalgamation would bring.

"Change is long overdue however the onus is now on the local governments in these areas to determine the best future for their ratepayers," Mr Simpson said on Sunday.

"The government will continue its focus on progressing metropolitan reform in the other areas including the introduction of legislation for an expanded City of Perth."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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