Since 2012 the State Government has been seeking to reduce the number of rural and metropolitan councils in New South Wales in an endeavour to make councils stronger and more efficient. An independent Local Government Regional Panel was appointed which, despite strong opposition from residents on the northern beaches, recommended the amalgamation of Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Councils. Your Committee, in conjunction with other Pittwater Resident Associations, is strongly opposed to this amalgamation, as we believe the reasons being put forward simply do not apply to Pittwater.
Pittwater Council engaged external consultants to complete the government’s mandatory process of Fit for the Future and was certified as being able to deliver in respect of all government criteria. Pittwater Council is financially strong, independent, conscious of local issues and we believe is in a better position when making decisions to continue the unique living lifestyle for Pittwater residents. Now nobody is perfect, and you are aware we have fought hard at times to ensure Pittwater Council understands our needs and the particular requirements of residents in Warriewood. We have been able to achieve a lot, because we have good local representation on our Council. The emphasis being on local and approachable. Pittwater Council was formed only 23 years ago, and it was formed, with the agreement of the then State Government, because Pittwater residents were able to clearly demonstrate that being part of a larger Warringah Council was simply not working for Pittwater residents, and your committee, together with virtually every other resident group from Palm Beach to Warriewood see no reason at all to change this. Indeed, to do so, would be a serious backward step.
The history of Councils demonstrates at both international and domestic levels that merging councils is not successful; that the process is costly and disruptive; and does not achieve savings or positive outcomes. You are probably aware that a number of mergers in Queensland for example had to be undone, at a huge expense to ratepayers and tax payers. We won our independence only 23 years ago, and we should not be surrendering it unless there are compelling reasons to do so, and in Pittwater’s case, those reasons simply do not exist.
If you consult the Council’s website: http://www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au, three options are put forward for public comment, together with an on-line survey . We urge you to give consideration to this important issue and vote for Option 1: to continue the status quo of continuing to have an independent Pittwater Council representing us with its existing boundaries
NSW Treasury (T-Corp) places Pittwater in the Top 10 metropolitan councils for current and future sustainability. Councillor ratio to residents is excellent. In 1992 Pittwater Council was the first local council to be formed by secession in 100 years. Prior to this time a disproportionately small portion of rates collected from the northern peninsula was being spent in the northern peninsula leading to a significant backlog in infrastructure and community facilities. Prior to 1992 northern councillors in the former council were regularly outvoted by other councillors and inappropriate developments were being approved. Many Pittwater residents considered they were receiving very poor service from a large and remote council with a swollen bureaucracy.
In 2014 a survey conducted indicated that 91% of residents were satisfied with Pittwater Council’s overall performance. The prospect of a return to the former regime is cause for great concern.
The Warriewood Residents Association believes that local councils must be LOCAL as they serve their communities more effectively than distant mega-councils. Let us not see a repeat of mistakes made elsewhere such as in Queensland, where shortly after having borne significant costs in merging councils in 2008, even more money was then wasted in 2013/14 in the de-merging of councils like:
More information with regard to our own Pittwater situation has been set up by the community here.
The proposed amalgamation is being driven by an agenda that does not take into consideration what the community want. The criteria upon which the decision is being made is fundamentally flawed, and if we don’t all act now, we will unfortunately wear the consequences. Read what the experts say.
IPART has been appointed by the State Government to oversee Council reforms and proposed amalgamations, but their terms of reference have to be of serious concern to any democratically minded person. This letter to the Manly Daily (7 May 2015) sums it up.
We will be keeping you informed and you are encouraged to start or join a discussion, or address your queries, in the blog below. Your opinion is important. Please don’t miss the opportunity to have your say on such an important matter.