A banner by Lockhart Shire No Merger Action Group. Picture: FacebookFURIOUS mayorshave demanded premier Mike Baird and local government minister Paul Toole honour the state government’s pre-electionpromisethat there would be no forced council amalgamations.
Gundagai mayor Abb McAlister slammed the back-flip decision that is now likely see Gundagai be forced tomerge with Cootamundra,despite a unanimous desire to remain standalone.
“They went into the last election promising there would be no forced council mergers,” Cr McAlister said.
“They’ve totally done a black-flip. I want to see them stick to their promise.”
It comes in the wake of Cr McAlister blastingHarden Shire Council for making an alternate submission to merge with Gundagai and Cootamundra without first consulting them.
“Coota and Harden both want to merge voluntarily,” Cr McAlister said.
“Shouldn’t Mr Baird honour that? Coota and Harden did 18 months’ work. Just let them do it.(The government) always said they’d listen to communities.
“It’d be a total shemozzle if we were to merge with Coota and Harden.We’re still fighting.”
Harden mayor John Horton said Mr Toole’s back-flip on his verbal promisethat there would be no forced council mergersat a mayoralconference in Coffs Harbour in 2014 was a case of “hypocrisy, not democracy”.
“At that meeting, Paul Toole said those councils subject to a voluntarily proposal to merge by June 30, 2015, and provided they’re fit for the future and provided they have community support, they will 100 per cent support that,” Cr Horton said.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s not democracy, it’s hypocrisy.They’re bloody tyrants the way they’re going around this.They’ve moved the goalposts two or three times already.”
Cr Horton believed the mutual fight to merge with Cootamundra was “falling on deaf ears”.
“I believe we wouldn’t be in this position of Boorowa and Young didn’t want us in their proposal,” he said.
Lockhart mayor Peter Yates echoed calls for the government co come clean on itschange of heart that is a“gut-wrenching weight” on the community.
“I can’t see why they’d go back on their word,” Cr Yates said.
“They should be loyal to their constituents.They haven’t gone about it the right way. Reforms should be about negotiations, not this standover tactics.”
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