Inner West Independent

Mayor’s decision to schedule 10:30pm demerger meeting ‘completely ridiculous’: councillor

Demerger

Independent councillor John Stamolis has said the decision to schedule an extraordinary council meeting for 10:30pm is 'ridiculous'. Photo: Peter Boyle.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

An Inner West councillor has savaged mayor Darcy Byrne’s decision to schedule next Tuesday’s extraordinary demerger council meeting for 10:30pm, calling it “completely ridiculous and unsuitable for our community”.

Independent councillor John Stamolis, who has been a councillor in the Inner West since 2008 and is staunchly in favour of de-amalgamating the current Inner West Council back to the former Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville administrations, said that he has written to the Office of Local Government in hopes that the state government will override this “outrageous decision”.

“Who starts a public meeting at 10:30pm?” Stamolis said.

“Council now only has one meeting a month. Surely they could find a better time to hold this important extraordinary meeting.”

Demerger

Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne. Photo: Facebook.

In an email seen by City Hub, Inner West councillors were told that the mayor had set the time for the extraordinary meeting for 10:30pm on Tuesday, May 10, which will follow the previously-scheduled ordinary council meeting which will begin at 6:30pm.

A spokesperson for council told City Hub that this time was found to be “the most practicable time for an extraordinary council meeting within 14 days of the request”.

“The time was chosen purely because it was the most practicable for all councillors to attend as they will already be there on the night for the scheduled council meeting.”

The agenda for the extraordinary meeting only has one motion, tabled by Cr Stamolis and Greens councillors Justine Langford and Liz Atkins, which includes calls 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”.

The motion also said that “there appears to have been no attempt by council” to review the terms of reference and methodology for the demerger business case, which will be put to the Office of Local Government once completed, and consult with councillors and the community on the de-amalgamation.

Firm tasked with previous demerger cost-benefit report engaged for Inner West business case

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.

General Manager of council Peter Gainsford dismissed concerns last month that the firm would skew its business case assumptions based on the previous cost-benefit report, which predicted a $321 average rate rise following an Inner West demerger, saying that Morrison Low “have a lot of consultants within their firms who worked in local government”.

As of writing, the Office of Local Government had not responded to Cr Stamolis.

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