No merger, but links between Orange and Blayney must be kept: mayor

HEARD AT LAST: Cabonne residents during an anti-merger rally in June. They remain vigilant following the decision to abandon regional amalgamations. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI 0618dcrally2

HEARD AT LAST: Cabonne residents during an anti-merger rally in June. They remain vigilant following the decision to abandon regional amalgamations. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI 0618dcrally2

BLAYNEY mayor Scott Ferguson has urged councils to maintain the networks they formed during the amalgamation process or risk missing out on growth.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Tuesday mergers in regional areas would be abandoned, including the proposal for Orange, Blayney and Cabonne councils, which came as a relief to Cr Ferguson.

“I had to sit down and catch my breath,” he said.

“I’m certainly glad it’s over, not that it’s really over, but the fact that a decision has been made.”

After Orange mayor John Davis floated the possibility of a merger between Orange and Blayney councils if they both supported it, Cr Ferguson firmly ruled it out.

“Absolutely not – our community may not have been as vocal as Cabonne, but certainly our community is happy with the outcome,” he said.

“We were pragmatic – if we were forced to merge,it would be sensible to be part of it, it was always all or nobody.”

He said the council had reached a far better understanding of its financial position and infrastructure backlog during the Fit for the Future process, but the future of the Wellington Blayney Cabonne Alliance needed to be considered after Wellington resigned following its merger with Dubbo.

“Central Tablelands Water has become a full part of it but it’s been parked for the past 12 months,” he said.

“Part of that will be engaging Orange and certainly other councils because it’s a proven vehicle to achieve cost savings.”

He said after so many networks had been built between councils during the amalgamation process, it would be a shame to lose them, especially with Bathurst, Dubbo and the Hills Shire councils on three sides.

“Unless we create opportunities to work better as a region, we will miss out on investments and grants and funding that the other regions will potentially get before us,” he said.

“The government wants to work with regions, not particular councils.”

Meanwhile, the Amalgamation No Thank You (ANTY) group was also happy following Tuesday’s announcement.

But ANTY spokeswoman Marj Bollinger said they were not celebrating yet.

“We just want to make sure they don’t change their mind again in short,” she said.

“There were many times when they shifted the goalposts and that’s been the process all the way through.”

Mrs Bollinger said she would be keen to be involved if boundary adjustments were considered.

“They need to be logical, not drawing lines drawn on the map and there needs to be a lot of consultation,” she said.

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