State warned to 'back off'

SIX North Coast councils have supported Tweed Shire's call for the State Government to back off from enforcing a limit on the fees which councils can charge developers.

The council's gave their unanimous support this week to Tweed's protests against the $20,000 limit which is well under half the fees Tweed council charges some developers in some coastal areas for infrastructure such as roads, sewerage, parks and other services.

The council met at Salt for a regional shire's association conference which also considered issues such a enticing skilled workers to regional centres

Former Tweed mayor Warren Polglase, who had been heading protests against the Government limits aimed at reducing land prices around Sydney, said the Salt conference unanimously backed a motion calling for the Government to back off.

“I put the motion up on behalf of Tweed Shire Council and it was unanimously supported,” he said yesterday.

“There is a real concern from the Shires Association about the inability of councils to set their own charges.

“Councils spend millions of dollars upfront in anticipation of developments happening.

“Councils will now be reluctant to do that and that will curtail growth in the shire.

“Because this shire is very reliant on the construction industry, that would not be good for the Tweed.”

Cr Polglase said his motion called on the NSW Government to revisit its policy and stop involving itself in local government affairs.

“It tells the Government to back off, to go home, to take the foot off local government's throat and listen to our heartbeats because we are close to the community,” he said.

“There is genuine concern about interference from the State Government.”

Council representatives voiced concerns in person to Local Government Minister Barbara Perry.

Shires Association president Bruce Miller said rural NSW councils wanted their voices heard at state and federal levels.

“We've got some exciting opportunities this year. I feel that we have a real chance to boost our standing in politics,” he said.

“That would put us in a better position to get the best for our local communities, who are facing challenges that metropolitan areas are hard pressed to understand.”

Cr Miller said a push for a referendum to have local government recognised in the Australian constitution was part of the discussions.

“For the first time in our history local government and their communities are being consulted as to what they need locally from our constitution,” he said.

“We're pushing for an amendment that allows Federal Government to fund councils directly.”

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