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At the February Council meeting, Council reinforced the preferred position of Blayney Shire to stand-alone and authorised the Mayor to finalise the response to the NSW Minister for Local Government’s council merger proposal for Blayney Shire, Cabonne and Orange City Councils, should a merger proceed.
This response from Blayney Shire Council, submitted by the due date of 28 February 2016 to the merger proposal details the concerns of the community for elected representation and the retention of local autonomy and identity; in addition to the fundamental principles which Council believes are critical to be taken into consideration and reflected in the planning and implementation of any recommended merger.
These principles were conveyed to the Delegate during the public meeting held in Blayney on Thursday 4 February and are based upon the community feedback and councillor input into the merger proposal as follows;
• No amalgamation without all three former LGAs;
• A three way partnership approach to planning and implementing the new council with equal council representation;
• A new culture, separate and distinct from that of the former councils;
• A councillor body of manageable size that is focussed on creating a powerful new council, building on existing strengths and avoiding pitfalls;
• A role for existing councillors in an advisory capacity to help the integration process prior to the first elections;
• The current councillors to determine priorities for the allocation of the Stronger Communities Funds on community infrastructure projects within their LGA
• A role for all existing staff during the planning phase which draws on their skills and experience to the maximum benefit of the new council; and
• A structure that devolves autonomy to local town and village communities, free from unnecessary central interference.
What is critical in any change process is the merging of different organisational cultures and we need to remember that it is people that matters. Reassurance must be given to the significant rural based communities that local identity and autonomy can be maintained with the right governance model and organisational structure.
Similarly important is the continued focus on collaboration across the region to promote the unique attributes of the individual town and villages. This will be no easy task unless the merger, if proceeds, is a real partnership.
Download the Blayney Shire Council Submission to the Merger Proposal for Blayney Shire Council, Cabonne Council and Orange City Council.
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