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SSC Newspaper : February 2014
Strathfield Scene 5 NEWS www.ourstrathfield.com.au “At no stage during this long and drawn-out report process has anyone bothered to explain to the residents of Strathfield how amalgamating with five other councils could possibly be in their interests.” — Strathfield Mayor Daniel Bott RESIDENTS URGED TO RALLY AGAINST MERGER ATTEMPTS Opal Card proves just the ticket New plan to cut violent crime by 10% Doyouwanttobeapartof a professional team working in one of the most unique environments in Sydney? Taronga Zoo, Sydney is currently seeking an experienced and highly motivated individual to join our Cleaning team. If you have demonstrated experience in a cleaning industry environment then we want to hear from you! To find out more about this position and how to apply, please visit the Taronga website http://taronga.org.au/about-us/careers APPLICATIONS CLOSE: MONDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2014 By Peter Lynch Strathfield Council is to join the clamour for more time for the community to respond to the State Government’s long-awaited report on amalgamation. The report, released in January, still singles out Strathfield for a merger with Ashfield, Burwood, Canada Bay, Leichhardt and Marrickville. Residents have been urged to rally behind the opposition for one last push to halt the state Review Panel’s attempts to merge major councils in the inner west. And the council this week passed a recommendation urging representations be made to extend the consultation deadline from March 7 to May 7, pointing out that they had been in recess and residents had been on holiday. A spokesperson for Local Government Minister Don Page told the Scene: “If, as we get closer to the deadline, the sector indicates it requires additional time for consultation, the Minister will consider seeking an extension from Cabinet.” Last November Premier Barry O’Farrell told the Scene in an exclusive interview that he believed no case had been made for mergers. The panel’s report cites the construction of major infrastructure projects such as WestConnex and the management of Parramatta Road as the rationale for amalgamation. While it is not yet known how the Government will react, it is believed that, 15 months out from an election, there is now little appetite for something as controversial as council mergers. In what appeared to be a softening of the resolve of Mr Page, his statement on the report recognises that any new policy would have to be in conjunction with local councils and communities. “The reports show quite clearly that local government is facing many challenges and that ‘no change’ is simply not an option if we want NSW to become No.1 again,” he said. “However, this change needs to be developed in partnership with councils and their communities.” Mayor Daniel Bott said any merger would not benefit Strathfield and the majority of residents were against any form of amalgamation. “At no stage during this long and drawn- out report process has anyone bothered to explain to the residents of Strathfield how amalgamating with five other surrounding councils could possibly be in their interests,” he said. “Polling indicates that some 70 per cent of Strathfield residents are opposed to any form of merger. Strathfield has its own carefully cultivated identity and the majority of its residents rightly wish to manage their own area. Taking control away and handing it to a remote super council authority would be a disaster locally.” Councillor Helen McLucas said: “Strathfield does not want Burwood’s ‘ugly building syndrome’ nor Marrickville’s controversy as seen in its recent push for a boycott of Israel. Strathfield residents wouldn’t stand for that. “They expect the sound leadership that sets the benchmark for other councils that they currently enjoy.” Strathfield Council challenged the report’s findings on financial viability, saying the municipality was in a strong financial position and would continue to be so over the coming three years. Strathfield stood out from other councils, earmarking $50,000 in funds to Gladys Berejiklian and Barry O’Farrell launch the extended Opal Card at Strathfield station. The Opal Card ticket system is now available to Strathfield residents and the area it covers now also includes Redfern to Strathfield and Strathfield to Hornsby. NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, Premier Barry O’Farrell and Strathfield and Drummoyne MPs Charles Casuscelli and John Sidoti announced the changes, saying the card could now be used at an additional 55 train stations. And the rollout was ahead of schedule. “This will be a welcome change for commuters as both the Strathfield and Drummoyne MPs can say that the ticket queues on a Monday are hor- rendous,” said Ms Berejiklian. “With Opal we are offering cheaper fares across the train network and once customers have received their free Opal card, they will never have to line up to buy a ticket again. You just tap on at the start of your journey and tap off at the end.” Ms Berejiklian said the State Government was now in the process of installing Opal machines on local buses and would eventually be phasing out paper tickets. Strathfield Council has agreed to send officers onto the streets of the area to identify hot spots for crime. The move was approved at this month’s council meeting after the council heard details of the Strathfield Crime Prevention Strategy 2011-2014. The initiative is also part of the council’s plan to reduce violence in the municipality by at least 10 per cent over a 10-year period. Crime statistics analysis found that for the period 2008-13 the Strathfield local government area experienced a decrease in crime in all areas except home break-ins. This is in line with surrounding council areas that also experienced a drop in crime levels. “Steal from Dwelling”, or home burglaries, increased by 11.6 per cent over the period in Strathfield. The area was followed in the list by Canada Bay, which had a 10.9 per cent increase in home burglaries over the same period. Between May 1 and August 22, 2013, 48 properties in Strathfield were broken into. The majority of these incidents took place on a Friday between 10am and 11pm. The main items stolen were small and portable such as cash, jewellery and computers. A NSW Police report identified four reasons behind increased home robberies including the perception that houses are easy to access, owners are absent during the day, there’s transport availability near properties and offenders tend to revisit areas where they have previously been successful.