Inner West Independent

Former mayor says 10:30pm demerger meeting sends ‘clear message’ to community

Demerger

An extraordinary council meeting will take place on Tuesday evening. Photo: Facebook/Peter Boyle.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

A former mayor of Inner West Council has said that the current mayor and general manager’s decision to schedule an extraordinary demerger council meeting at 10:30pm on Tuesday night “sends a clear message to the community that accessibility is not a priority”, adding that it’s “clear” that council wasn’t going to consult on how to undertake the demerger process.

Rochelle Porteous, a former Inner West Greens councillor who held the mayoralty for three months last year after winning the council’s vote last September, said that “it was evident that the council process was not able to be properly scrutinised by elected councillors, let alone the community”.

Demerger

Rochelle Porteous. Photo: Greens on Council.

The extraordinary council meeting, which was requested by Greens councillors Liz Atkins and Justine Langford, as well as Independent John Stamolis, will go ahead tomorrow evening after the previously scheduled 6:30pm ordinary monthly council meeting. A spokesperson for council told City Hub that this was found to be the “most practicable time for an extraordinary council meeting within 14 days of the request”.

Demerger motion to help ‘engage the community’: councillor

The agenda for the meeting has just one motion, tabled by councillors Atkins, Langford and Stamolis, that includes a request for council to establish a demerger committee, which would invite councillors, local government experts and community members to “oversee the development of the demerger business case”.

Cr Atkins said that the motion is “about ensuring that residents and experts on local government are given an opportunity to help chart the demerger course”.

“We should be doing everything we can to fully engage the community; using the known local government experts and getting the process right.”

A poll taken during the Inner West elections in December last year found that 62.5 per cent of voters supported Inner West Council being returned to its former Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils after the three were officially amalgamated in 2016.

Independent consultancy firm Morrison Low, who also produced a demerger cost-benefit report ahead of the December poll, has been engaged by council to conduct the business case.

The business case would, once approved, be delivered to the NSW Office of Local Government, which would decide the next steps of the demerger based on the results of the business case.

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