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Council Marriage Plans Ramp Up

By Marcus Braid on July 1, 2015 in News

Image: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Image: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Eastern Suburbs councils have moved into a unanimous position opposing a global city council, but questions linger over a preferred merger.

On May 26, Randwick City Council voted to oppose a global city council and to form a merged Eastern Suburbs council with neighbouring councils Waverley and Botany Bay, should the NSW Government force their hand under the controversial Fit for the Future reforms.

Randwick Mayor Ted Seng said the right decision had been made to safeguard Randwick’s identity.

“We know that we are financially strong enough to stand alone, but that simply doesn’t meet the criteria that’s been set by the NSW Government and IPART,” he said.

“We’ve done our due diligence and considered every option available to us. Plus, we have conducted our largest ever community consultation program on this issue. More than 8,000 people had their say, and of all the merger options, Randwick and Waverley was most preferred.”

However, Randwick councillor Tony Bowen lambasted the process taken by Council in settling on a merger with Waverley and Botany, and the fact there was no plebiscite with residents.

“Council resolved to go with a timeline that meant there would be at least one plebiscite to decide on the proposal,” he said.

“Randwick residents would have had a vote on whatever the proposal being put up was. What happened instead was they got the results of the survey and they had them since the first week of April, and they just sat on it for two months. The whole timeline has just been chucked out the window.”

Cr Bowen said there was a heavy qualification in regards to merging with Botany, as well as a number of concerns with merging with Waverley.

“The proposal says ‘We’ll consider Botany if they want to be in’, but Botany has said clearly that they don’t want to be in,” he said. “In reality, it’s not an amalgamation with Botany at all; it’s just [a proposal] to amalgamate with Waverley.

“The real danger for the progressive voters anywhere in the east and south-east is what Waverley Council is up to, because their proposal is for Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick, which – surprise, surprise – is exactly the same as what the Mayor [Seng] initially came out with.

“My own view is that would be a disaster for the residents of Randwick because you wouldn’t have sufficient representation for the more disadvantaged parts of our city to the south.”

Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said her residents’ least preferred option was a merger with Botany.

“I have been very outspoken for believing it is not in the interests of Waverley residents to be part of the global city [council],” she said.

“We have been very careful as a council to take a step back and let the independent people do their financial assessment.

“Randwick is in a very, very good financial situation and so any council that amalgamates with them would be slightly better off. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done to put ourselves in a really good financial situation that we’re in. Woollahra is about the same as us [financially] depending on which way you look at it. Botany is not quite in that state.”