Bondi View

Eastern Suburbs mega council on the horizon


By Elliott Brennan

Randwick, Waverly, and Woollahra councils look set to merge into a mega council under the State Government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ amendments to local Government.

The Fit for the Future system of local Government is aiming to reduce the number of local councils in Sydney from 41 to just 18.

Randwick council has released an information pack which lists 7 options for the local government’s future,  6 of which it sees as ‘not preserving Randwick’s identity’.

Paul Toole, the Minister for Local Government said last year that “doing nothing will not be an option” for councils that do not meet the scale and capacity markers.

Randwick Council is just 50,000 residents short of the 200,000 mark and remains completely financially viable, with no net debt.

Mayor of Randwick Ted Seng says that Randwick faces one of its’ “biggest challenges in 155 years” and that the merging of all the neighbouring councils would be disastrous for Randwick.

“The Government wants us to amalgamate to build a ‘global city’,” he said.

“We don’t support the creation of a global city as we value our Randwick identity, local representation and existing quality services and facilities.”

But Councils that don’t make submissions as to how they are going to meet the markers have been told by the Government that they will not be given a role in any of the future boundary changes.

The Mayor said this is forcing his hand.

“The Government wants us to consider an amalgamation with City of Sydney, Woollahra, Waverly , and Botany councils – building a council with more than 500,000 residents,” he said.

“We are required to show the NSW Government that we can meet their scale and capacity requirements in some way, whether it be through their preferred global city option or a merger that is broadly consistent.”

A merger of Waverly and Randwick Council would be eligible under the Government’s scheme but would leave few options for Woollahra council to meet the markers.

The more likely position for Randwick to adopt according to early polls is a merge of all three ‘Eastern Suburbs’ councils seeing Woollahra joining its two larger neighbors.

Former Randwick Mayor and Federal Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith has applauded Randwick councils’ proactiveness and warned off considering a merger with the industrial council of Botany.

“I think Randwick Council are doing the right thing by going to the people first, and the government will look favorably upon their efforts,” he told City Hub.

“There is certainly a lot of sense in an Eastern Suburbs council. Management of waterways and beaches would be consistent, but throwing Botany in the mix would complicate things given the nature of their LGA.”

Woollahra council has timidly indicated that they would consider some options which preserve the identity of their local government area (LGA), whilst Botany maintains a staunch opposition to making any submission to the Government.

In the early phone poll 89% of Randwick residents indicated that the supported the Eastern Suburbs mega council over the global city proposal but given the choice, 57% would not have any changes.

The results of the current round of community consultation will be made available in May, before being endorsed by the Randwick Council and submitted to the Government in June.





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