A question is asked of the NSW treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian:
“given that the rates in Victoria and Queensland (where councils have merged) are 20% higher than rates in NSW, why did the Baird Government go for the divisive amalgamation model rather than the innovative Joint Organisation model”
Here is her answer (or we should say non-answer):
It is so sad to see our NSW treasurer not understanding world best practices in planning.
Having Less councils to deal with will not make planning easier. What makes planning easier is having councils, governments, who can listen to the people – this is far easier with smaller government bodies such as small local councils.
Mergers will kill our greatest asset – the People’s voice
Evidence shows that smaller councils between the size of 40,000 and 71,000 residents are the “fittest”.
Smaller councils have more Councillors per head of population. Councillors from smaller councils are more likely to be locals with no outside or political vested-interests.
This makes them more likely to better gather people’s ideas, wants and needs for local areas. This in-turn allows them to spend better on what is really needed, just one of the many factors which make smaller councils stronger financially too.
Here in Pittwater we have first-hand experience of how much better it is to be smaller rather than larger. Twenty-four years ago we were part of Warringah Shire. On May 1, 1992 we split to form the smaller Pittwater Council and we haven’t looked back.
Best planning practices from around the world search for ways to better canvas the local voice. It is the key to making places more liveable and happier places to be. Places such as:
- City of Copenhagen
- City of Melbourne
- City of Tokyo
- City of Vancouver
- City of Vienna
- and it is good to see City of Sydney rising in the ranks
The one thing all these cities have in common is they all asked the people what they want – using this voice as an asset. All of them have used the same consultant, Jan Gehl in helping them to design and plan, including the City of Sydney.
Gehl’s philosophy is to build on a human-scale – to design and plan for people. Sounds obvious but this is actually what we haven’t done in the West (especially the USA, Canada and Australia).
When you listen to the people, according to planners who have done so, you eliminate many planning headaches and actually make the planning process easier with better outcomes.