Member for Ballina Don Page
Member for Ballina Don Page Cathy Adams

Councils fear mergers

BALLINA Shire Council will write to NSW Local Government Minister Don Page to express opposition to any forced amalgamations.

The council will also seek written confirmation from Mr Page and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard that they will not "approve or initiate the forced amalgamation of Ballina Shire Council".

And, if a merger is proposed, the council will have a plebiscite on the issue.

The motion - which was carried by six votes to four - was put forward at last week's council meeting by Cr Jeff Johnson.

He said it appeared that forced amalgamations were "back on the agenda".

"I think it's important that we state our case because of the local government review which is currently being done," he said.

"Cr Johnson said the Government had promised before the 2011 elections that there would be no forced amalgamations.

But he said he was concerned by comments made by Mr Page which indicated that having 152 councils was "unsustainable".

In December last year Mr Page told The Northern Star that he would not pre-empt the outcome of the review of local government, which is being chaired by Professor Graham Sansom.

However a report released by the panel late last year stated: "The evidence suggests that NSW has too many local councils and that various forms of consolidation should be pursued to strengthen capacity and sustainability."

The final report is due to be presented to the minister in August.



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