Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Inner West De-merger business case - localisation in a large council

In my view (but I could be wrong as I was only a community member and not a councillor on Leichhardt Council), the business case assumes we have acheived all that was promised by the amalgamation and shows no understanding of the pain the community has endured and the reduction of services.

It is true that councillors now need to be across a larger area in the case of Gulgadya it extends from half of Annandale, to Croydon, taking in Haberfield and Leichhardt (suburb) as well as a part of Ashfield (suburb) along Parramatta Road. Half was in Leichhardt and the other half in Ashfield council with their very different policies and services.
Examples are:
  1. Scheduled vs Booked Pickups (even those in the Marrickville LGA are complaining about dumping and they loved their booked service)
  2. The selection of people for the so called "Local Democracy" groups the administrator set up to replace the open advisory committees (I was a regular at the Heritage Committee of Leichhardt Coucil and went along to a couple of Climate Change Taskforce Meetings to advocate for LED lighting) Ironically Local Street lighting switched to LED on my watch on Inner West Council.
  3. The loss of planning alerts (downgrade of Leichhardt Online DA system)
  4. To acheive economies of scale we need to have a one size fits all - but one size does not fit all when it comes to planning in particular, though as with planning, streetlighting, waste and even electricity we have to comply with/or change state laws and there is SSROC for shared services
  5. Operating Pools and Libraries as shared services is also debatable - collections and usage reflects the needs of a local community.
The draft business case states:
"The key benefits of de-amalgamation, that the community have assessed as worth the additional costs, include:
  • significantly improved local representation
  • a right to self-determination and the removal of an unpopular “forced amalgamation”
  • some perceived service level improvements and better alignment of communities of interest.
This business case presents two options for a de-amalgamation:
  • option A - pre-merger service levels - amending service levels to that provided prior to amalgamation
  • option B - current Inner West Council service levels.
  • A third option (option C) investigates shared services. This option has been discounted after a review of the literature indicated there was no significant or demonstrated benefit in shared services in NSW local government. However, certain shared service arrangements [such as the Shared Internal Ombudsman aka Complaints Officer] could provide marginal net benefit for particular services if managed closely and could be considered through business cases by the proposed de-amalgamated councils if the de-amalgamation goes ahead."
Recording of last Thursday's presentation of the business case is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY0ar7ANuok
The annual Micromex Survey on which community satisfaction with council is based (with additional questions about demerger business case) closes 31 July 2022 at https://yoursay.innerwest.nsw.gov.au/de-amalgamation

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