May 3 - 9, 2015: Issue 212

 Pittwater Uprising Again

Pittwater Uprising Again
by ‘Pittwater Scout’May 2nd, 2015

On Friday May 1, Pittwater turned 23 years old.

On the eve of this auspicious anniversary, residents from the 12 major Pittwater Community groups rallied to retain Pittwater - in its present state and with its present boundaries.

The main messages arising from this meeting were:
1.    Pittwater Council is fit for the future. It is strong, local and independent. And a bigger council is very likely to:
•    lose our strong democratic, local, community feel
•    have greater financial problems, evidence from around the world shows that councils with more than 150,000 residents are weaker financially than those with 40,000. Those with 75,000 residents (roughly the size Pittwater will be in a few more years) are ideal (see graph).
•    Our Councillors are independent. They are not influenced by political parties or vested interests. Larger councils can lose this independence.

2.    Pittwater was set-up by the community, for the community. This means it is a true democracy:
•    with the people who love and live in the place having a huge say in what happens in the area
•    this also means that the community has a custodial obligation to ensure the natural beauty of the environment is preserved and enhanced. Not always an easy gig - but one which can be rewarding.

3.    Pittwater council does work, people who have lived here longer than 23 years know that the larger bureaucracy doesn't work. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it - especially to something which history shows didn't work.

4.    That the State Government’s process, driven by scale and capacity outcomes, effectively shuts the residents out of any balanced evaluation process.
Passions were running high. Starting with Tony Tenney who chaired the meeting and is secretary of Clareville and Bilgola Plateau Residents Association (CABPRA).

“Pittwater is a true democracy and worth saving. It is the only true democratic council formed in NSW within the last 100 years. Something we should be proud of,” said Tenney.

Avalon Preservation Association’s Craig Boaden spoke about the State Government’s Fit for the Future process and how the outcome will decrease our democracy.

“The State Government’s Fit for the Future process is about scale and capacity and we should be fearful as this erodes democracy,” he explained.

“Why is the NSW Government trying to impose a mega council on our region when it has three state electorates in the same region?” he added.

Chris Hornsby, President of Warriewood Residents Association then stood up and questioned the reasoning of some who thought a larger council would be financially stronger.

“What sort of fairyland are we living in when we think a large bureaucracy is better,” he asked.

“There is evidence from all over the world and here in Australia that large councils don’t work financially but more importantly they diminish the culture and democracy of local communities. Just look at what happened in Noosa for example.”

“It’s time. Time we gave the community back its voice,” he added.

Storm Jacklin, President of Palm Beach and Whale Beach Association (PBWBA) agreed. “Community interest is foremost. Councillors and MPs are elected to represent the interest of the people, not the interests of the bureaucracy,” he said.

With that the communities of Pittwater unanimously voted to form an umbrella group which will give the people of Pittwater a strong, united voice to fight against amalgamation. This group will be a federation of the residents associations and community groups of Pittwater.

The chairman reminded all present: “We are on eve of the 23 anniversary of Pittwater Council. Will anyone light a candle? More to the point, will there be cake or candle for the 24th birthday? Will there still be a Pittwater Council?", Tenney asked.

A list of Pittwater Community Groups who attended the meeting:
1.    Avalon Preservation Association
2.    Bayview Church Point Residents Association (BVCPRA)
3.    Bilgola Preservation Society
4.    Clareville & Bilgola Plateau Residents Association (CABPRA)
5.    Careel Bay Pittwater Protection Association Inc (CBPPA Inc)
6.    Church Point Friends
7.    Mona Vale Residents Association
8.    Newport Residents Association (NRA)
9.    Palm Beach and Whale Beach Association (PBWBA)
10.  Pittwater Community Arts
11.  Pittwater Natural Heritage Association
12.  Warriewood Residents Association