Last chance to speak on Council merger

Public demand for an after work hours Public Inquiry Meeting on the proposed Hawkesbury-Hills merger is so strong that a second meeting will now be held on Monday evening 22 February commencing at 7pm.

It will be held at the Hawkesbury Racecourse, Clarendon by the Delegate appointed to provide a report to the Minister for Local Government. Call 1300 813 020 to register to speak or register online at www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au.

The first Public Inquiry Meeting held on Friday, 5 February met with community outrage about the whole proposal, with comments that it was “ridiculous”, “without proper consultation” and a “change for the worse”.

Despite it being a Friday afternoon, close to 200 turned out and the views expressed by the 49 speakers were well thought out, said Hawkesbury Mayor, Councillor Kim Ford.

“I don’t think the Government realised just how strongly the Hawkesbury community feels about this issue – our community is not a push over – we know what we stand for – and we don’t stand for becoming just another suburb of the Hills so that developers can build high rises across the Hawkesbury. Nor do we want to see our council funding directed primarily to providing services for the North West Growth Centre,” the Mayor said.

“Why would anyone support all this change when there is no economic benefit and no real savings for the people of the Hawkesbury?

“People are not only speaking from the heart but from the head – because this merger just does not make sense, not only from a community interest standpoint but a from a fiscal point of view – as it would negatively affect our local economy, and projected long term savings are minimal if any,” he said.

“The first priority, other than fair community consultation – not consultation at the eleventh hour – is the test whether this merger makes sense financially – but the proposal fails this test – the figures just don’t add up.

“Hawkesbury Council remains resolute as a stand-alone council. We can achieve better results for the community without the need for a merger. The proposed merger of the Hawkesbury and part of The Hills stands to reduce representation, doesn’t conform to current state planning objectives and stands to create a huge unworkable north west council covering some 3200 square kilometres.”

The Mayor said people need to turn up in force at the next meeting and have their voices heard.

“I urge all local residents, community groups and business people to make the time for this last chance meeting on Monday night, 22 February, to have their views heard on the merger before it is too late. It would also be great to see our State Member, Dominic Perrottet attend as well.”

Members of the community can also comment through a written submission until 5pm on Sunday, 28 February 2016. Submissions must address certain criteria and may be made either online at www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au/proposals/hawkesbury-city-and-the-hills-shire-councils or by mail to GPO Box 5341 SYDNEY NSW 2001. Note that mail submissions must be sent in time for the Sunday, 28 February cut off. Public submissions will be reviewed by the Delegate and used to inform the examination and reporting process.