Mayor says amalgamation is “anti-democratic”
TWEED mayor Barry Longland has labelled ongoing plans for an amalgamated county council as "anti-democratic."
Cr Longland and various other Tweed Shire Council staff visited Lismore yesterday to meet with NSW Independent Review of Local Government Panel chairman Graham Sansom.
Councillors and other senior staff from all Northern NSW councils also attended to discuss their concerns regarding a discussion paper released by the panel, before their final report is delivered to Local Government Minister Don Page sometime between July and September.
"That panel has issued their final discussion paper preceding the report and forums are being held across NSW," Cr Longland said.
We don't see the county council model as good for the Tweed...We're not happy with that model and the discussion yesterday was an opportunity for me as a mayor, and senior staffers, to plead our case.
"Tweed's position is that we want to remain as a standalone council.
"We have a distinct catchment and we do our own sewerage and water."
Cr Longland said he was concerned that if a county council was formed, it would not be beneficial for residents of the Tweed.
Specifically, mayors of less populated council areas, such as Casino, would have a seat at an overarching county council, allowing them to influence decisions over much larger councils.
"The mayor of Casino would have a seat at the county council," Cr Longland said.
"In a way, I think that's anti-democratic.
"If you look at the Tweed Valley and Richmond Valley...all of these other councils combined still aren't even the size of the Tweed."
Cr Longland said Tweed Shire Council was the largest regional council in NSW and should continue to manage its own area independently.
"We don't see the county council model as good for the Tweed," Cr Longland said.
"We're not happy with that model and the discussion yesterday was an opportunity for me as a mayor, and senior staffers, to plead our case.
"We think the council we have here is totally viable.
"We're hoping in the full report that they see that as well."
Cr Longland said while he was hopeful Tweed Shire Council would remain an independent body, he was unsure what the final report would recommend.
For a detailed look at the review of local government process head to localgovernmentreview.nsw.gov.au