Council backflip? Mergers poised to be reversed in NSW

WOOLLAHRA Mayor Toni Zeltzer has claimed a "win for democracy" after saving her council from amalgamation as the State Government reportedly prepares to reverse the controversial policy.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian looks set to call off all pending mergers, which includes the proposed amalgamation of Woollahra with Randwick and Waverley.

"I'm yet to receive a formal notification from the Government (but) if what I'm hearing in media reports is correct, then this is great news for our community," Cr Zeltzer said.

"This is a win for democracy."

Cr Zeltzer said she was "delighted" when Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was going to listen to the community on the contentious issue.

"Clearly the State Government has listened and they have got the message loud and clear that local communities want to have a say on the future of their local areas and they care deeply about having their voices heard," she said.

The council has been locked in a protracted and expensive legal battle with the State Government to prevent the merger.

It had just briefed top silk Bret Walker to handle its special leave application for an appeal in the High Court.

"With around 80 per cent of our community opposed to a forced merger and in support of Woollahra Council remaining as a stand alone organisation, we were prepared for a long battle to fight forced mergers," Cr Zeltzer said.

"We have not wavered from our commitment to represent the best interests of our community. That is our job and my personal commitment."

She applauded the Government for making the "right decision".

"I commend both the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian and the Minister for Local Government, Gabrielle Upton, for listening to the community and for acting quickly."

Ms Upton, who has previously opposed the mergers, was sworn in as Local Government Minister on Monday.

As the State Liberal MP for Vaucluse, the forced merger would have hurt her at the next State election.

It is understood ratepayers of already merged councils may be given the opportunity to vote to de-amalgamate.

Ms Berejiklian has not denied the plan to reverse the mergers.

News Corp Australia


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