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SSC Newspaper : February 2013
february 2013 news 4 Strathfield Scene $50,000 to fight amalgamation By Bernadette Chua Strathfield has declared war on amalgamation – voting for a $50,000 fighting fund for Save our Strathfield, the community group leading the campaign, and issuing a series of press releases warning the State Government to keep its hands off. Councillors have also agreed to swing the assets of the council behind the residents’ group, including communications. The council chamber in Homebush Road will be festooned with anti- amalgamation banners. Libraries and other buildings will also display posters. The tree outside the chamber is already decorated with red ribbons – a throwback to the successful 2000 anti-amalgamation campaign. General Manager David Backhouse has been charged with finding credible experts to develop an evidence-based Strathfield anti-amalgamation strategy. Mayor Gulian Vaccari and Backhouse are seeking an urgent meeting with Local Government Minister Don Page. The moves – and funds – were outlined in a mayoral minute passed by all sides of council. Save our Strathfield (SoS) has already launched a petition, aiming for 10,000 signatures. If it reaches the target, it can present its case in front of the state Legislative Council as a People’s Petition should an amalgamation be enforced. SoS has launched a website – www. saveourstrathfield.org.au – where residents can sign the petition. The moves come ahead of a State Government-backed report, due to be presented in mid-April, that is expected to advocate for amalgamations among NSW’s 152 councils. Strathfield, Ashfield and Burwood councils were singled out as possible targets in a newspaper report late last year. SoS, led by Nella Gaughn, Karen Pensabene and Paul Austin, opened a stall outside the council offices this month to collect signatures. About 50 people signed the petition and pledged support by hanging red and white ribbons on the tree outside the council chambers. “In Queensland, resident surveys showed around 67 per cent of people want to de-amalgamate due to loss of services and the lack of voice they have in their council. “In Noosa, 97 per cent of the residents want to revert back,” said Pensabene “Some areas suffered a 400 per cent rate increase and we don’t want this to happen to Strathfield.” When Mayor Vaccari announced the grant and council’s support for SoS, an elated gallery cheered. But councillors conceded they have a long fight ahead of them. Strathfield’s request to become a city has been put on hold, indicating that changes could be on the way. Cr Helen McLucas, who is the council’s representative on amalgamation, said petition signatures are needed before the Independent Local Government Review Panel release a final report in April. “ We are facing imminent amalgamation like what has happened in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland,” said Cr McLucas. “Our people will lose their jobs and these are our local residents. “Mothers and fathers who want to stay close to their children, schooling in the area will no longer have this option. “Local jobs will go and our businesses will fail.” Cr Raj Datta said if Strathfield was to amalgamate with the surrounding area, there would be a significant loss of services. “If this council does amalgamate, they will not just lose their service and amenities, but their voice.” no amalgamation! We Want strathfield to remain an independent municipality Signed...................................name .......................................... emaiL ............................................. Send to: PO Box 120, Strathfield, nSW 2135. Or sign at www.saveourstrathfield.org.au Where they stand the mayors of the inner West on amalgamation BurWood council John faker aGainst “The amalgamation in NSW will mean local residents will no longer be heard. If local councils merge, the needs of residents will be compromised in order to appease the wider constituency.” ashfield council morris mansour aGainst “Ashfield Council is opposed to amalgamations for a variety of reasons, including the loss of contact residents will have with their local representatives, the ability of community representatives to pursue residents’ issues being diminished, centralised bodies tending to lead to more centralised decision-making, local villages within ‘super’ councils losing their voice and their ability to maintain their unique identity.” strathfield council Gulian Vaccari aGainst “I obviously think amalgamation is terrible. It’s true a lot of councils around Sydney and NSW are unsustainable – not because they can’t pay the bills on Friday, but because they can’t deliver serious infrastructure. But that’s not the case for Strathfield. It has well maintained infrastructure, has been well run and has money in the bank. It can stand alone.”
December 2012 SS