Councillors, community opposed to amalgamation
Published Friday, 1st May 2015
Fairfield City Council has voted to propose to the NSW Government that Fairfield be a stand-alone Council.
After results of a community consultation showed the community was overwhelmingly (91%) opposed to an amalgamation with Liverpool Council, Fairfield City Council has voted to propose to the NSW Government that Fairfield be a stand-alone Council.
The results of Council’s Preliminary Assessment Findings, Community Consultation Results, Demonstrated Scale and Capacity, and Financial Status and Future Outlook support Fairfield City Council standing alone.
Council must now submit a Fit For the Future (FFF) proposal to the State Government by 30 June 2015 demonstrating how it will be FFF in relation to financial management, service delivery and scale of operations.
Councils have a choice of three templates to help prepare their proposals. The meeting voted to complete Template 2 ‘Improvement Proposal’, which is ‘for councils that have appropriate scale and capacity’.
Fairfield City Mayor Frank Carbone said the decision was taken after a report prepared by Council revealed clear opposition from Council’s community and the financial impacts on Fairfield City and its residents.
“The report identified our community’s views, through various surveys, including an independent poll,” Mayor Carbone said. “Residents were 91% opposed to an amalgamation and local business were more than 80% opposed.
“The report also identified that Fairfield residents would not benefit from an amalgamation. It found that Fairfield Council’s outlook will meet all seven of the financial benchmarks if it stands alone.”
Council started its Community Consultation on 16 March 2015 and continued through to 10 April 2015. A total of 2,142 responses were received, which included a community survey, Businesses and focus groups and included an independent telephone survey conducted with 605 residents. The results indicate that Fairfield’s community (91%) and businesses (82%) support Fairfield City Council standing alone and not amalgamating with Liverpool City Council.
Mayor Carbone hoped the overwhelming opposition by residents to an amalgamation would be taken into account when the State Government considered Council’s future.
“The residents and ratepayers are the ones who should decide whether Councils should amalgamate, not politicians and bureaucrats in Macquarie Street,” he said. “It is the residents streets and their services.”
The key findings of Council’s report revealed that:
- Council is financially sustainable. In the years 2011-12 to 2013-14, three out of seven of the benchmarks set under the FFF proposal have been met, however, from 2015-16 onwards seven out of seven will be met.
- Fairfield and Liverpool City councils have sufficient strategic scale and capacity to stand alone and meet future challenges.
- Fairfield supports Parramatta and Liverpool as regional centres and can continue to provide this function without amalgamation.
- Fairfield and Liverpool communities have different characteristics and priorities and will not benefit from amalgamation.
- Potential savings from amalgamation are minor compared to the costs and disadvantages of amalgamation.
- There are doubts about the efficiencies that could be achieved given the size of an amalgamated local government area.
- The size of an amalgamated council may result in a scale that diminishes the capacity to adequately service and provide focus on local priorities.
- The financial incentives provided by the NSW Government do not outweigh the position that both councils have sufficient capacity to stand alone.
- Amalgamation will create competing priorities between Fairfield’s disadvantaged community and the State Government’s priority for developing Liverpool as a Regional City and promoting its growth areas.
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