Barry Longland at the Murwillumbah council chambers.
Barry Longland at the Murwillumbah council chambers. John Gass

Tweed Council to prepare submission rejecting amalgamation

IN THE wake of amalgamation fears sparked by the release of the Future Directions for NSW Local Government discussion paper last week, Tweed Shire Council is preparing a comprehensive submission.

Mayor Barry Longland and Acting General Manager Troy Green will meet with the Chairperson of the Independent Review of Local Government Panel, Professor Graham Sansom, early next week.

Cr Longland said that since the paper was released, he and Mr Green had spoken at length with Prof. Sansom about the future of Tweed and the discussion paper, which proposes that Lismore becomes the regional centre of a County Council for the entire Northern Rivers.

"It is great news that Prof. Sansom is making the trip to Tweed to discuss our future," Cr Longland said.

"The panel has been extremely receptive to council's concerns, providing assurances and clarification on some matters from the discussion paper."

He said he had complete confidence in the panel's undertakings.

"They want to hear ideas from councils in the region regarding the possibility of establishing County Councils," he said.

"Prof. Sansom has given me a cast iron assurance that the panel is not proposing to transfer Tweed's water and sewer functions to a county council.

"This would mean that these jobs may not be lost, our water and sewer will be secure and Tweed will have a strong future."

He said Tweed agrees with and embraces the need to change the direction of local government in NSW.

"There are many aspects of the discussion paper that Tweed fully supports, including the need for sustainability benchmarks, the requirement for all councils to have a qualified chief financial officer and a commitment to improving council and management relationships," Cr Longland said.

"Council's submission would also focus on the positives of the discussion paper and highlight the significance of Tweed as a border region in its own right."

"The Council submission will clearly advocate that we remain as a strong, stand-alone council or county council that will continue to work with and participate in regional collaboration - it just makes sense."

Tweed has the population base, its water catchment lies entirely within the Tweed, it is financially stable and capable of managing its infrastructure and environment, according to Cr Longland.

"We are doing a good job of that in comparison to other local governments in NSW," he said.

"Council intends to present the submission at the May council meeting to then put it to the Review Panel during its regional consultations.

"Tweed residents and businesses are encouraged to get online to read the report and have their say at http://www.localgovernmentreview.nsw.gov.au."


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