June 30 - July 6, 2013: Issue 117

 Hon Rob Stokes Hosts Roundtable Discussion On Council Mergers 

 Roundtable Discussion On Voluntary Council Mergers 

MEDIA RELEASE - 28th of June, 2013

Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes today met with key Pittwater community groups opposed to the consideration of voluntary council amalgamations. 

In April this year the Independent Local Government Review Panel, established following a direct request from the Local Government and Shires Association, released its recommendations on how the effectiveness of local government in NSW could be improved. 

Included in these recommendations were potential options for voluntary amalgamations which local councils have been invited to consult with their communities on and provide feedback. 

The People for Pittwater group, headed by former Pittwater Mayor Harvey Rose, was the lead organisation at today’s meeting and is strongly opposed to any amalgamation proposals being pursued. 

“The message being conveyed throughout our community is that Pittwater should remain exactly how it is,” Rob Stokes said today. 

“Nothing has been produced to demonstrate how the public interest would be better served by amalgamating three councils on the northern beaches into one. 

“Whilst the consideration of amalgamations is completely voluntary and up to local councils to determine - the message from the Pittwater community has been a loud and clear no,” Rob Stokes said.

People for Pittwater delegation to Rob Stokes

"The meeting of community group leaders led by People for Pittwater presenting their  submission to Mr Stokes demonstrated the unity of the Pittwater community against amalgamation.Harvey Rose

The strength of opposition from Pittwater residents to a recommendation from the Local Government Review Panel to a recommendation for the Local Government Review Panel that Pittwater, Warringah and Manly councils should be amalgamated into one super council, was demonstrated at both the rally outside Warringah Council Chambers and submissions to a hearing by the panel on 4th June 2013.

The rally, organised by People for Pittwater committee was attended by many concerned residents who chanted the themes of “No amalgamation” and “Hands off Pittwater.” The rally was addressed by People for Pittwater executive members Shane Withington (Friends of Currawong) and Eunice Raymond (Chair, Save Mona Vale Hospital Committee) and was MC'd by Co-Convenor of People for Pittwater Harvey Rose.

The rally was attended by many prominent members of community organisations who passionately voiced the opposition to amalgamation proposals. The rally unanimously passed a motion which stated total opposition to amalgamation of Pittwater with Warringah and Manly.

People for Pittwater Co-convenor Harvey Rose stated “The passionate connection of so many residents with Pittwater and their willingness to fight for Pittwater’s independence was demonstrated at the rally.” “People for Pittwater will continue to campaign for as long as it takes to ensure the view of the overwhelming majority of Pittwater residents prevails.” “We must not be steamrolled by the bureaucrats” Mr Rose concluded.

The hearing of community submissions to the Review Panel was held inside the Warringah Council chambers. Around 150 people attended the hearing - 95% of these appeared to be Pittwater residents who were there to support submissions against amalgamation. People for Pittwater Executive members Harvey Rose, Shane Withington and Eunice Raymond presented to the panel as did former Pittwater mayor Robert Dunn. Thirteen people in total made submissions opposed to amalgamation. Nearly all submissions opposed amalgamation - in fact no submission supported amalgamation.

People for Pittwater’s Harvey Rose commented “The quality of the submissions was of the highest level and must have impressed the Panel chair.” “Let us hope the Panel heeds the view of our community.” “People for Pittwater will continue our campaign until this matter of amalgamation is entirely defeated.”

Mr Rose further commented “The panel chair Prof. Graham Sansom admitted all three councils on the Northern Beaches were financially strong and sustainable.” “We must ask then why the panel would suggest amalgamation.” “Amalgamation would disturb our communities and be very costly.” “What would likely follow , as in Queensland, would de-amalgamation with more disturbance and unnecessary financial burdens.” Mr Rose continued “We have the ideal organisation now with agreement on regional issues, cost savings through bulk buying and shared services to come, through the regional organisation SHOROC”. “Significant cost savings have already been made.” “Keeping our local councils means we ensure our communities have access to sufficient councillors.” “The Panel should let us get on with the business of serving our council well and withdraw their baseless recommendation about amalgamation” Mr Rose concluded. 

People for Pittwater

MEDIA RELEASE - Thursday 27 June 2103

Stokes supports position that a large majority of concerned Pittwater residents are opposed to amalgamation - Friday 28th June was the final day for submissions to the Panel which had suggested amalgamation of Northern Beaches Councils.

The People for Pittwater submission which stresses the Pittwater community at all levels is opposed to amalgamation was presented to local member Rob Stokes. Executive representatives of twelve community groups attended the presentation of the submission to Mr Stokes.

Mr Stokes has stated that in his view a large majority of concerned residents in Pittwater are in favour of an independent Pittwater and opposed to amalgamation.

The submission stressed the peer review of the amalgamation proposed by Professor Brian Dollery concluded there is no evidence to support the amalgamation proposal.

The People for Pittwater submission noted Manly Council is opposed to amalgamation; Warringah Council is opposed to compulsory amalgamation. 

Co-convener of People for Pittwater Harvey Rose stated “People for Pittwater will continue to campaign against amalgamation for as long as it takes.”

Mr Rose concluded “The local Government Review Panel should remove the recommendation to amalgamate Pittwater Warringah and Manly councils from its final report.

Documents Relating to:

Bigger Is Not Always Better: An Assessment of the Independent Local Government Review Recommendation that Pittwater Council Be Amalgamated by Professor Brian Dollery - 27th of May, 2013

PFP Submission to Independent Local Government Review Panel - 11th of February 2013

Pittwater Council's Submissions on the White Paper – A new planning system for NSW, the Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney and Future Directions for NSW Local Government – Twenty Essential Steps