The NPA provided the following submission to the State Government Delegate in regard the recent three-way Local Government merger proposal.
Merger Proposal: Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby Councils
The Northbridge Progress Association Inc. and its members acknowledge the advantages that can eventuate as a result of a merger between Willoughby, North Sydney and Mosman Local Government regions.
In support, we make the following comment.
(Refer NSW Local Government Act 1993 Chap. 9; Part 3: Section 263 (3))
We recognise that there will, in fact, be economic benefits in a combined larger council structure – such as a consolidation of services and improved efficiencies; greater bargaining power with suppliers; ability to commercialise and reap a return on current underperforming assets; and fewer councillors and council staff per population area. All this should contribute to a better operating performance.
The community of interest and geographic cohesion.
We seek the incorporation of all of the areas near St Leonards Railway Station, which presently fall within the Lane Cove Local Government Area into the Willoughby-North Sydney merged zone. Currently, the suburb of St Leonards is split between three councils, and this has brought about poor planning and zoning decisions.
Our community is exemplified by the existence of our Progress Association, which acts as a cohesive force between government and the community. All nine Progress Associations within Willoughby are independently funded and operate on a membership system – quantifying the level of involvement the community has in ensuring the amenity of their environs.
Historical & Traditional values
We recognise and endorse the architectural, aesthetic, environmental and economic value associated with the proposed combined entity. To retain the character of North Sydney, Mosman and Willoughby built environment; it is important that we continue to protect the established conservation areas and built heritage and to ensure that the current protections within our Development Control Plans continue to be enforced.
Attitude of residents
Our community seeks equitability and fairness; transparency, value for money and vision. We support the amenity of our environment, and we acknowledge that the amalgamation of North Sydney, Mosman and Willoughby City Council should assist in making the combined entity more cost efficient with better community facilities and services over time.
Requirements in relation to elected representation
We support the system of a popularly elected mayor with all councillors being part time, as they are now. Our councillors need to have a demographic diversity; they need to be in touch with community opinion and their decision to uphold the position should not be skewed in favour of those who can afford to put their professional career on hold or those who are in retirement.
All elected officials should be independent of any pecuniary interests that would prove them associated with developers, real estate agents and builders. Council by-laws should exclude such candidates from office.
Ability of council to provide adequate and equitable service:
We consider that the administrative centre for the new LGA should be centrally located and have easy access for the public by road (and to parking) and public transport.
Employment of Staff:
We support that a merged council will require a review of staff to attain a balance between strategic and operational functions. An analysis of the number of personnel reporting to each manager and demarcation of duties or overlapping of jobs, as has recently been undertaken at Willoughby council, need to be once again re-implemented. It will be imperative that staff know exactly what their work should deliver to the community. The importance of a professional, competent and strong CEO to implement this is essential.
Desirability of wards:
We favour a ward structure. The ward system assists with community cohesion and ensures that local issues receive the focus and attention necessary. We support having three councillors per ward to provide decisive representation and to avoid an indecisive two-way split.
Need that opinions of all the community are represented:
We see advantages in having at least four wards.
We see Progress Associations as being key to all of the above; in ensuring greater accountability, transparency and community engagement. We acknowledge that a larger Council area, with less Council representatives per population, will necessitate alternative means by which all levels of Government and the community can be adequately informed. Progress Associations, with their enhanced communication network and their resource of resident volunteer expertise within their membership structure, can fill that void. Progress Associations can provide a conduit between residents and Council. Progress Associations will ensure greater local representation. We can provide community cohesion and a strong united voice in directing Government.
We thank you for the opportunity to comment and again reiterate our support for the merger process.
President – Northbridge Progress Association Inc.
- About us:
- Northbridge Progress Association Inc. is one of nine Progress Associations within Willoughby City Local Government area. We have a membership of close to 400 individuals and have been operating continuously since 1919. We have a publication –“The 202” – which we distribute as a hard copy, free of charge to all 2600 households within Northbridge on a quarterly basis to keep our residents abreast of Local issues. “The 202” is also distributed electronically to a wider audience via our Web Site and social media. We as an Association, also conduct regular quarterly community meetings where we encourage greater interaction between our member residents; other community associations, our Councillors and Council Officers. All in all – we encourage increased transparency between all parties and thereby ensure a greater working relationship between residents and Government.