Pittwater demerger campaigners to join rally calling for Labor support
Pittwater demerger supporters will take their message to the NSW Labor conference this month to encourage the party to retain its support for binding plebiscites in amalgamated council areas.
Demerge NSW Alliance (DNA) chairman Grantley Ingram called on residents from across the state to converge outside the 2022 Labor State Conference at Sydney Town Hall from 8am to 10am on Saturday, October 15, to encourage delegates to maintain the same policy the party took to the NSW election.
“We need to support Labor with sticking to their current policy platform for a plebiscite on amalgamations, and importantly, the plebiscite must be based on the former council areas if we are to restore democracy,” Mr Ingram told Pittwater Online News.
“We have attendees planning to join us from across the state.
“Even if you’re not welded onto the demerger idea, we need to make clear that merged councils are not delivering for their communities.”
Former Pittwater Councillor, Vice President and Save Our Councils Coalition and DNA member Sue Young encouraged Pittwater residents to attend the rally - organised by DNA and the Inner West based Residents for Deamalagamation.
"Come and join me representing Pittwater outside the Labor Party conference to ensure they maintain their policy for communities to have their democratic right guaranteed in binding demerger plebiscites for former council areas," Ms Young said.
"Let Labor know this issue will be a vote-winner at the state election next March."
Protect Pittwater chairman Bob Grace emphasised the loss of democracy incurred when the NSW Coalition government dismissed Pittwater councillors and formed Northern Beaches Council, by merging the Warringah, Pittwater and Manly Local Government Areas.
“Northern Beaches Council doesn’t work in the interests of our community,” Mr Grace told Pittwater Online News.
“It’s too big. We have only three councillors representing us from a total of 15, making decisions for Pittwater. And they can be outvoted on anything.
“Please join me at the rally on October 15 - we must get our council back.”
Mr Ingram said the promised savings and improvements from the forcibly amalgamated councils had not been realised.
Issues such as land use zoning changes, rate increases in some cases by more than 100 per cent, financial management and diminishing services were common across merged councils.
However, the announcement in August by NSW Local Government Minister Wendy Tuckerman to demerge Cootamundra - Gundagai Regional Council had changed the demerger outlook across the state, he said.
The minister had conceded at the time that the Cootamundra - Gundagai council had not achieved lower costs or better infrastructure or services as an amalgamated council.
The decision was the result of six years of hard work by the Gundagai Council in Exile group, supported by the communities of Cootamundra and Gundagai.
Ms Tuckerman was now forced by legislation to pay for the cost of the demerger which had been estimated at $1.75 million, Mr Ingram said.
“We have not only Labor, Greens, SFF (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) and key independents supporting demergers but now also the current Liberal Nation government,” said Mr Ingram, who is also chairman of demerger group Save Bombala.
Three other NSW councils, Inner West, Canterbury - Bankstown and Snowy Valleys (Tumbarumba – Tumut), also have formal, council promoted, demerged proposals underway.
DNA has representatives from the majority of merged council areas across the state.