Inner West Independent

Morrison Low to prepare Inner West de-merger business case

Independent consultancy firm Morrison Low will prepare the de-merger business case. Photo:


The General Manager of Inner West Council has dismissed concerns that the independent consultancy firm tasked with building a business case for the council’s demerger will skew its assumptions based on a previous cost-benefit report.

When asked last week at a public meeting about the suitability of consultancy firm Morrison Low preparing a business case for the de-merger, Peter Gainsford, the General Manager of Inner West Council, assured voters that the contents of a previous report prepared by the consultancy firm would not skew the results presented in the business case, saying that “Morrison Low have a lot of consultants within their firms who worked in local government”. 

Ahead of the local elections last December, where 62.5 per cent of voters supported Inner West Council being returned to its former Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield councils after the three were amalgamated in 2016, Morrison Low prepared a cost-benefit report to inform the community of the impacts of a de-merger.

As there is no prescribed method for de-amalgamating a council in NSW, the report made “a number of assumptions” to guide its analysis, which estimated that there would be $26.2 million in one-off costs, and $22.1 in ongoing costs. It also predicted that average rates would increase by up to $321 in the Inner West.

Mr Gainsford also said that the Morrison Low business case would be discussed by councillors at a June meeting, with community engagement to be undertaken and the outcome to be reported to council in August, with the business case then being submitted to the NSW Minister for Local Government.

Justine Langford. Photo: Supplied.

Greens councillor concerned Morrison Low business case will ‘set us up to fail’ 

The public meeting was organised by community group Residents for De-amalgamation and included speeches from Inner West councillors Justine Langford and John Stamolis, as well as Rochelle Porteous, the previous Inner West mayor.

During the meeting, Independent councillor Stamolis said that “our residents and most of our councillors don’t know what’s happening”.

“After four months there have been no regular updates, no opportunities for anyone to contribute or participate and in fact… very basic motions that would have contributed to the demerger process have been voted down,” Cr Stamolis said. 

Langford, a Greens councillor, has tabled two separate motions targeting a timeline for the demerger, with each being defeated behind the Labor voting bloc, which holds a one-seat majority after the election. 

“It seems at the moment that the case for the demerger is secret business that unfortunately, myself and other councillors have absolutely no visibility on,” Cr Langford said. 

“I am very concerned that council will put forward a very weak business case which will be rushed and unconvincing and set us up to fail.”

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