Community Groups in Pittwater say NO to ONB Mega Council

Chairman of Pittwater Forever, Tony Tenney’s speech from Monday 21 March:

“My name is Tony Tenney.

Pittwater-forever-FB1“I am chairman of Pittwater Forever, a coalition of 19 community organisations which came together in anger and disbelief at the government’s forced amalgamation proposals. This has been a particularly painful process for the people of Pittwater who campaigned for 25 years to secede from Warringah Council. We seek to retain Pittwater on its current boundaries.

“The Northern Beaches communities are now faced with a second unpalatable prospect: Warringah Council’s proposal for one council covering all the northern beaches area and hinterland.

“The division of Warringah Municipality under the government’s present two-council proposal was completely undemocratic and was disrespectful of Warringah residents. But that undemocratic decision should not have produced a second one by Warringah Council: it did not entitle Warringah to promote one council for the whole of the Northern Beaches. And make absolutely no mistake: one council on the northern beaches would be Warringah Council on the Northern Beaches.

“A more honourable position for Warringah would have been to continue on its present boundaries and not seek to expand its territory at the expense of its neighbouring councils whose base position is to remain on their own boundaries.

“We know that MEGA COUNCILS DON’T WORK. They suffer from significant diseconomies of scale. Eminent local government specialist Prof Brian Dollery (UNE) in an independent report found that a merger of the three Northern Beaches Councils would not improve financial sustainability.

“Rather than shrinking, after an initial cut, bureaucracies tend to grow over time. The claims for major cost saving through mergers are based not on evidence but on untested hypotheses with their rubbery assumptions.

“Even if the suggested savings were real and sustainable, a critical indicator of the health and quality of local government is its localness. We can all see how passionate people are about their local councils, particularly here on the northern beaches. With about 7000 residents per Councillor in Pittwater there is close, frequent and effective two-way communication between Councillors and residents. The one council proposal would destroy such intimacy.

“Many people see the underlying thrust of the government’s forced amalgamation program as a sop to developers, to smooth their way and make life easier for them. While it is possible some developers find difficulties dealing with different councils, they should realise that local planning instruments are just that: local. And for good reason: they reflect the environmental, geographic, demographic and economic variation across this large state. There is scope for improving planning processes without forcing unrepresentative mega-councils on the population.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that there is NO consensus for Local Government reform by boundary changes on the Northern Beaches. For several reasons, but mainly because of the government’s defective policy making, we find on the beaches not unity, amity and cooperation, but friction, mistrust and betrayal.
The existence of such a poisoned political atmosphere should persuade the Delegate that one council covering all the northern beaches would not work. He should therefore make a recommendation that each of the three councils be allowed to continue to serve their present communities, to heal and to begin the process of rebuilding cooperation and respect.

“It is the only way forward.”

Say No to One Northern Beaches mega council NOW (before Friday, April 8): https://www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au/proposals/manly-pittwater-and-warringah-councils/

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