Submission to Council Boundary Review - Leichhardt, Marrickville & Ashfield: make a submission by 28 Feb

Ms Cheryl Thomas
NSW Council Boundary Review
GPO Box 5341
Sydney NSW 2001


I write to express my strong objection to the forced amalgamation of the three Inner West councils. I have addressed some of the key criteria below.

Financial advantages or disadvantages of the proposal to the residents and ratepayers:
Financial modelling commissioned by Leichhardt Council shows that a separate Leichhardt will perform better financially than a mega-council of Leichhardt, Ashfield and Marrickville.

Communities of interest and geographic cohesion in the existing areas and in any proposed new area:
Leichhardt Municipality is a clearly delineated and cohesive geographic area. Parramatta Road forms a long southern border with Marrickville. Likewise Hawthorne Canal forms the western border with Ashfield; and Johnson’s Creek the eastern border with the City of Sydney. The foreshore of Iron Cove, Sydney Harbour and Rozelle Bay forms the continuous northern border.

Existing historical and traditional values in the existing areas and the impact of change on them:

Leichhardt Council, as presently constituted, has been in existence for 67 years. The Council has ways of making decisions and campaigning for community objectives that involve residents. There has been the long experiment with its unique ‘Open Council’ - in which the individual citizen can make their views directly known to decision-makers - is supported as a key part of the political and cultural landscape.

Attitudes of the residents and ratepayers of the areas concerned:
I am strongly in favour of the retention of Leichhardt Council and oppose the proposal to force amalgamations.

Any effects the merge might have on elected representation:
The impact of amalgamation on local representation will be significant. At present each Leichhardt councillor represents less than 5,000 people. If the amalgamation proceeds each councillor in the new mega-council will represent more than 15,000 people. That will mean less access for residents and less advocacy from councillors. I fear this will lead to a new council waving through new overdevelopments.

Any impacts the merger proposal could have on the ability of the council to provide adequate, equitable and appropriate services and facilities:
An extract from a KPMG study published in December estimated that 96% of financial savings of merging Sydney’s Councils would come from reducing Council workforces. That means reduced services.

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Showing 104 reactions

  • Elisabeth Dark
    signed 2016-03-01 07:40:42 +1100
    I have lived in the Leichhardt Municipality for approximately 30 years. During that time the council’s delivery of services and responsiveness to community needs have improved enormously.

    I feel well served by the current council. in particular I value Leichhardt’s policy of open council, which allows residents to speak at council meetings without having to register. This is democracy in action. Any amalgamation would diminish my ability to be heard and be represented, as councillors will be responsible for a much greater constituency, will not be so familiar with their local concerns and will have a greater workload.

    Leichhardt Council is in a strong financial position. It takes advantage of purchasing economies through cooperation with other councils in the relevant Regional Organisation of Councils. Amalgamation will not bring financial advantages.
  • Salesh Prasad
    signed 2016-02-28 20:12:13 +1100
  • Richard Lie
    signed 2016-02-28 18:04:59 +1100
  • Raymond Thomas
    signed 2016-02-28 17:42:53 +1100
    I strongly believe the forced amalgamations is a move by the 2 major parties to gain control from democratically voted local councils. The history these parties in state government is to continually out do each other in not listening to their electorate e.g. WestConnex, complete incompetence/arrogance Urban Growth and serious corruption, the on going Labour party Kelly/Obeid saga.
  • Frank Vavasour
    signed 2016-02-28 17:30:03 +1100
    Merging will loose local voices to being overtaken by development projects
  • Kerry Thomas
    signed 2016-02-28 17:21:40 +1100
  • Clare Maguire
    signed 2016-02-28 17:12:26 +1100
    I am a strong believer that, in a democracy, the best representation comes from smaller, closer councils rather than unwieldy, large groups that do not so easily hear the voices of the least, the disadvantaged, the poor, and the

  • Lester Jones
    signed 2016-02-28 15:51:20 +1100
    As someone who has only recently moved to the Leichhardt Council area (13 months), I was immediately impressed with the local facilities and the level of services provided by council. These were very much superior to the much larger council area from which I had moved. I also understand that Leichhardt council is financially sound. It would therefore seem illogical to merge with two councils which are not on such a sound financial footing. This move can only be based on some kind of political ideology.
  • Catherine Walker
    signed 2016-02-28 15:28:39 +1100
  • Jocelyn Morris
    signed 2016-02-28 15:19:46 +1100
    Forcing council amalgamations against the wishes of residents is not only anti-democratic but foolish as it will result in widespread discontent and will destroy the close contact and co operation which currently exists between people and their representatives. Some distant entity which has been forced on residents cannot have the level of trust that currently exists. Jocelyn Morris
  • Mackook Coye
    signed 2016-02-28 14:47:47 +1100
  • Sandra Langtree
    signed 2016-02-28 14:45:33 +1100
    I am very happy with Leichhardt Council and the services it provides to our diverse community of residents. I like Leichhardt Council’s excellent waste management services, Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre with its wide range of fitness programmes, and Strong Seniors programme that I attend several times a week. I love the special events exclusive to Leichhardt in relation to diversity, environmental, arts and culture, covering, all ages and interests. And I love that Leichhardt is an open council that stands up to the big issues that affect residents daily lives. All these services are at real risk of being lost under a mega council.

    The state government do not have a mandate to force council amalgamations. The process it has used so far lacks credibility and is deeply flawed. [Refercence the Parliamentary Inquiry into Local Government] that has:

    • Recommended government policy of no forced amalgamations after finding the ‘Fit for the Future’ assessment process was flawed.

    • Found that IPART should never have conducted assessments into the overall ‘fitness’ of local councils and recommended that the government reject IPART’s findings.

    • Found no evidence to support the government’s agenda that council amalgamations will save residents money. In Victoria and Queensland forced council mergers have now pushed rates to up to 40% more than in NSW.

    • For a council amalgamation to have any legitimacy, it should only proceed where residents and ratepayers of each local government have voted in favour of amalgamation in a valid referendum.

    • When amalgamations have been forced on locals in other states like Victoria and Queensland, rates have gone up, services have stagnated and residents end up less connected to their local councillors

    • In Queensland a number of mega-councils have now begun the expensive process of de-amalgamation, with the Queensland Government bearing the cost of this process.

    In conclusion:

    Genuine community consultation on forced amalgamations has been sorely lacking; the process keeps changing and appears to be rushed. The state government has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on a TV advertisement with false claims that the local government system is ‘broken’. The only broken parts are the vested interests of the state government and their corporate supporters who appear to be the driver in an undemocratic operating system regarding forced council amalgamations

    To properly assess the Leichhardt merger proposal a separate plebiscite needs to be called by the delegate in the existing Leichhardt local council area under S265 of the Local Government Act.

    I urge you to please act in the best interests of Leichhardt Council residents by calling for a separate plebiscite for Leichhardt.

    Yours sincerely,

    Sandra Langtree

    Lilyfield Resident
  • Michael O'Brien
    signed 2016-02-28 14:25:38 +1100
  • Neil Tonkin
    signed 2016-02-28 14:11:14 +1100
    Leichhardt Council has evolved to viably and democratically represent the residents of Leichhardt, Annandale, Lilyfield, Balmain, Birchgrove and Rozelle.

    The ‘savings’ achieved by inevitable reduced staff will result in loss of jobs and loss of corporate knowledge for the municipality.

    There is a strong sense of identity in our municipality and Leichhardt Council is the vehicle by which this sense of community brings about events and activities that distinguish our area. I do not want that to be diluted and lost by a forced merger with surrounding Councils.
  • Ineke Smee
    posted about this on Facebook 2016-02-28 13:35:15 +1100
    Sign the petition: Submission to Council Boundary Review - Leichhardt, Marrickville & Ashfield
  • Ineke Smee
    signed 2016-02-28 13:33:15 +1100
    Dear Ms Cheryl Thomas,

    The “raison d’être” of a local council is that it’s local: it represents the local people and local issues. Amalgamating local councils into super councils makes no sense from a democratic point of view. If anything, as the population grows, we ought to have smaller and more numerous councils.

    We already have a State Government for the overarching issues of NSW, we don’t need to transform local councils into mini-state govts.

    Why does the State Govt want amalgamations across Sydney? It can only be to suppress local voices, and further erode democratic power. All talk of “efficiency” and “savings” is a palatable way of saying “we want to sack a significant number of council employees”. Ipso facto, this will mean less services, and less of a voice, for us.

    On the other hand, we PAY for our councils through incredibly high council rates and a multitude of other fees and fines, so I expect my local council to be small enough to give me and every other resident of Marrickville meaningful representation and service.

    In future, I don’t want to compete with three times as many residents for attention, yet still pay premium rates for reduced services and a hollowed democracy.

    Democracy is expensive, democracy is worth fighting for, democracy is key.

    Yours sincerely,

    Ineke Smee
  • Sheenagh O'Brien
    signed 2016-02-28 12:52:42 +1100
    I totally disagree with ‘mega-councils’ as they not deliver the the personal understanding of local issues.
  • Gilion Phillips
    signed 2016-02-28 10:34:27 +1100
    I hold grave concerns about the proposed amalgamation of Leichhardt Council with Marrickville and Ashfield. My concerns are that sensitivity to local issues will be lost, the ability to address grass roots issues will disappear and the contact we presently have with local council and amenities run by them will be diminished.

    Amalgamated councils would inevitably lead to larger and more remote and inflexible bureaucracies which, by their nature, tend to respond to bureaucratic imperatives not local needs.

    I do not believe it would lead to any savings, but risks making us all more exposed to developer greed and manipulation. Foretastes of this we have already seen with the advent of private certification and so called complying development, which was never intended for older, inner city areas and has proved disastrous when cynically exploited by uncaring and rapacious developers, who have no attachment to the local area and less concern for general community welfare.

    Local councils were established to deal with local issues, keep them local. Amalgamations serve only the political machinations of those who need to appease the insatiable greed of developers, who, in turn, finance their political campaigns. Please keep our council local.
  • gretchen gamble
    signed 2016-02-27 22:04:38 +1100
  • Lucy Penhallow
    signed 2016-02-27 21:58:10 +1100
  • Irene Stariha
    signed 2016-02-27 21:50:29 +1100
    Leichhardt council has a very strong understanding and proactive approach to community needs, issues, priorities. They provide services to reflect these specific community expectations in a professional, prompt and creative manner. Amalgamation will diminish the ability for the particular community requirements to be understood and met. We already have State and Federal governance which often strays from reflecting true community values – why are we wanting to make every form of government as disconnected from the people it serves as possible? Perhaps developers would find larger councils more manageable, but our society should be based on more than developers needs!
  • Cristine Cusbert
    signed 2016-02-27 21:13:42 +1100
    I’ve lived in this area for 23 years and am a strong supporter of the way Leichhardt council has worked with residents. I believe there should be a vote by residents in regard to any suggested changes to council format. I do not think there is anything of benefit to residents in amalgamating Leichhardt Council with any others.
  • Bernard Mooney
    signed 2016-02-27 20:38:14 +1100
  • bernie james
    signed 2016-02-27 18:27:46 +1100
  • John McDermott
    signed 2016-02-27 17:23:12 +1100
  • Robert Garnsey
    @robgarnsey tweeted link to this page. 2016-02-27 17:06:09 +1100
    Sign the petition: Submission to Council Boundary Review - Leichhardt, Marrickville & Ashfield
  • Robert Garnsey
    signed 2016-02-27 17:05:34 +1100
    Government has not made a convincing case for mergers and has no mandate from the ratepayers to impose this. Experience of council mergers elsewhere show diseconomies of scale with service decline and rate increases. I’ve lodged more detail on
  • Tim Glover
    signed 2016-02-27 16:25:02 +1100
  • Wendy Morrison
    signed 2016-02-27 16:13:04 +1100
    It is essential that planning decisions are made in local communities NOT mega- regions. The Leichhardt Municipality has a strong sense of community participation and local decision making, which is essential in maintaining the character of these historic suburbs.

    The people should decide in the next council election whether to amalgamate or not. This is democracy, the people of NSW do not want a big brother approach to local issues and developments. We want to maintain the integrity and chapter of Sydney, its suburbs and a sense of belonging.

    Ashfield Council fits in character with Burwood and Drummoyne and should not be with Leichhardt/ Balmain however suburbs across the river and harbour have more in common, such as Hunter’s Hill and Waverton.
  • David Pollard
    signed 2016-02-27 16:09:45 +1100
    I have lived in the Leichhardt Council area (Balmain) now for around 42 years, and have generally enjoyed excellent service from our local council here. And in addition I have also known many of the councilors here personally over the years, all of whom have followed up any concerns that I have had. Only a small community-oriented council of this nature can offer such “personalised” service to its constituents.