BY LUCAS BAIRD
The Mayor of Marrickville has admitted that the fight against forced council amalgamations in Marrickville is virtually over.
In this week’s council meeting, the council was presented with a transition plan by the General Manager that presented the framework for a future merger between Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield.
The plan was commissioned at an extraordinary council meeting on the 27th of January this year and staff from all three councils wrote the report.
Marrickville Mayor, Sam Iskander, said they they had done their best to fight the mergers and now had to protect the residents.
“We were opposing amalgamations and we did our best to convince the state government not to go ahead with this,” Clr Iskander told City Hub.
Clr Iskander said the council is now at a stage where the only chance they have at playing a positive role is to help with the transitional process.
But Greens councillor, Sylvie Ellsmore, claimed that fight to keep Marrickville out of the merger was still alive.
Clr Ellsmore claimed that the moving forward of the transition plan was only a minor step towards the amalgamation and they still had plenty of opportunities to push back the state government.
“No, this is not at all a major step forward for the amalgamations,” Clr Ellsmore said.
“This is just basic administrative behaviour.”
Clr Ellsmore also introduced motions last night to join the Woollahra led legal action against the state government.
“At least five other Councils have already joined the action, which is being led by Woollahra Council and has its first court appearance this Wed 20 April in the Land and Environment Court.”
In a previous mayoral minute the Mayor urged all of the councillors to send expressions of interest to the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, to potentially play a role in the formation of the new council.
The expression of interest takes into account factors like the councillors ability to commit to the success of the new council, work with the government and commitment to promote a new council to the community.
Independent and pro-amalgamation councillor, Victor Macri said that certain councillors who sent an expression of interest would be guilty of hypocrisy.
“You tell me how many people can do that on this council?”
“Not many people, unless they are hypocrites or spineless,” Clr Macri said.
Clr Macri called out the Mayor in particular.
“If you don’t believe in it and you don’t think it is good then why would you put a submission in? Where is all the hooha?”
Clr Iskander said that by submitting the expression of interest it gave every councillor the best chance to continue working for the community until the next local elections.
“I asked every councillor to submit the EOI so they could continue to work for the residents like they did before,” Clr Iskander said.
The staff of the Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield council’s collaborated to complete the transition plan for the new council.
It has put staff in the unusual predicament of designing a more efficient, merged council which may include less council employees.
“Senior staff have accepted this is the direction council is going in and they have shown a high level of professionalism and ethics in the way they put that together,” Clr Macri said.
The plan, whilst it indicated that the councils believed they shouldn’t be merged, focused on how residents could be effected
Clr Macri praised the report for this focus.
“[The report is] putting the residents first, making sure the residents are looked after,” he said.
“The bottom line is that majority of people aren’t really phased by amalgamations. All they are worried about is their services and if they will be maintained, and they will be.”