Humphries offers guarded support for standalone councils

By Lara Pearce

The ‘Fit for the Future’ program was a hot issue at last week’s Annual Western Division Conference, igniting lively debate in the Wiradjuri Centre conference room.

The NSW Government initiative aims to make local councils more economical, proposing that some amalgamate or become a rural council – a new form of council with fewer councillors and less red tape.

Western Division councillors were keen to seek the assurance of Minister for Western NSW, Kevin Humphries, that they would not be forced into amalgamating.

While Mr Humphries said that he did not support amalgamation for councils in Western NSW, he stopped short of promising the Government’s support.

“You’re not going to get a response out of the Government until everybody has really had their say,” he said.

“In some parts of the state you will see people combining.”

“It is about giving local communities and Councils the option to participate. They want the capacity to expand and to set up infrastructure as well.”

Both Lachlan Shire Council’s Mayor, Des Manwaring, and the Acting General Manager, Alan McCormack, have previously voiced their support for remaining a standalone council in spite of the Fit for the Future panel’s recommendation to amalgamate with Parkes.

“Our position is clear,” the Mayor stated. “We want the boundaries of Lachlan Shire Council to stay as they are.”

All local councils in New South Wales will have to submit a Fit for the Future report to the NSW Government outlining their plans for long-term economic sustainability by 30 June.

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