THE idea of increasing the size of Blayney Shire Council by absorbing parts of neighbouring local government areas has been rejected by councillors from Orange and Cabonne.
Blayney councillor Geoff Braddon wants his council to seriously consider taking parts of Cabonne, Orange, Cowra and Bathurst councils.
His idea is supported by a majority of councillors in the Blayney shire and he plans to work with other councillors and staff to prepare a submission to the boundaries commission that advocates a bigger shire.
“We need to start getting on the offence, not the defence,” Cr Braddon said in relation to the current Independent Local Government Review being undertaken in NSW.
“I want parts of Cabonne, Orange, Cowra and Bathurst.
“We are capable of getting bigger and if we can get on the front foot, we’ll stand a better chance of surviving this review and not being amalgamated.”
Newly-elected Orange councillor Kevin Duffy said, with the local government review underway, the outlook was bleak for smaller councils like Cabonne and Blayney.
He said while the idea of smaller councils, like Blayney, taking parts of bigger councils was admirable, it was unlikely to get off the ground.
“People must accept that Orange is a regional city and has to provide regional services, which it’s starting to do.”
Councillor Duffy said the economies of scale meant the performance of local government would improve if councils joined together under a regional council umbrella, however, with the O’Farrell government ruling out forced amalgamations, he said it would be difficult to deliver serious reform.
“It’s all very well for governments to say ‘it’ll be voluntary amalgamations we’ll support’ but asking a general manager and a mayor whether or not they should amalgamate voluntarily is like asking for a turkey to cook itself for Christmas dinner,” he said.
Cabonne mayor Ian Gosper said if regional councils were formed, it would take the local out of local government.
“We don’t want to take over other councils and if we go the way of regional councils it will be bad. We want to keep our rural councils rural,” he said.
Councillor Gosper said he did not agree with the suggestion that Blayney Shire Council should take part of Cabonne.
“We’re partners with Blayney in the Wellington Blayney Cabonne alliance and I think there are avenues to look at doing more shared services work,” he said.
“Cabonne is in a very strong financial positon and we’ve been assured by the Local Government Minister there’ll be no forced amalgamations.
But Councillor Braddon said Cabonne was on the hit list and had to go.
He said other councils wanted to rip the Blayney shire apart for their own benefit.
“They want our water, our mine rate and Millthorpe and other historical villages for tourism,” he said.
The Independent Local Government Review Panel will hand down its final report in the middle of next year.