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                    [post_content] => Rally2

 

NSW councils are refusing to go quietly, with many continuing to rail publicly against Premier Mike Baird’s forced merger program to axe forty councils.

Woollahra Council, in Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs, is putting legal pressure on NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole to abandon plans to merge it with Randwick and Waverley Councils or face Sydney silk Bret Walker, SC in court.

The council’s solicitors, Speed and Stracey, have written to Mr Toole arguing that he does not have the authority to force mergers onto councils under the Local Government Act.

The solicitors contested that changes made to the Act in 1999 streamlined voluntary council amalgamations - not forced mergers, provisions for which remain in the old act but are significantly more arduous - and gave him seven days to drop his plans or face a legal challenge.

Should the council succeed, it will turn up the political pain for the state government and could restart the entire merger process under a different section of the Local Government Act, dragging it on for multiple months.

Mr Toole has said he wants to see new councils in place by June this year but Woollahra’s audacious challenge is just one of the acts of council-led legal obstruction, many of them occurring in Liberal-voting heartlands, which could seriously derail his plans.

Several councils, particularly those divided up under earlier merger proposals, have submitted new plans after Warringah Council found a loophole in the Local Government Act (1993) allowing them to submit a rival plan for a Northern Beaches Council.

Warringah’s new proposal would mean it was no longer be split between a part merger with Pittwater and another with Mosman and Manly Councils as it is under an alternative merger plan.

A clutch of regional councils have taken the same path to avoid being splintered.

Jerilderie Shire Council has submitted a proposal to merge with Murrumbidgee and keep its local government area intact, rather than split between Berrigan Shire and Murrumbidgee, as the original proposal outlined.

Palerang has opted to amalgamate solely with Queanbeyan, rather than lose part of its council area to a merger with Goulburn Mulwaree as well.

Some councils have used the loophole in a bid to merge with fewer councils.

Corowa Shire also submitted an alternative proposal – the same as that recommended by the Independent Local Government Panel’s 2013 report - to merge with Urana Shire Council, rather than with Lockhart Shire too.

But it has further complicated matters for Mr Toole, who has been forced to submit new proposals - in the form of a one-page letter - for alternative mergers to fit around new proposals, such as mergers between Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby, Dungog and Maitland and another between Boorowa and Young.

It has also meant another round of public inquiries to seek ratepayers’ feedback on the new proposals.

Rebellious councils are keeping up the pressure with a rally, Local Democracy Not Dictatorship, held at 12pm Sunday, March 13 at Hyde Park Fountain, led by Save Our Councils Coalition.
                    [post_title] => We shall not be merged: NSW councils deploy guerilla legal tactics
                    [post_excerpt] => Woollahra gives government seven days to drop merger plans.
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                    [post_content] => 

By Julian Bajkowski

Surf lifesavers have breathed life back into a cornerstone contract in New South Wales after Speedo-clad rescuers Australian Lifeguard Services successfully revived its contract with Sydney’s Pittwater Council to patrol nine beaches.

The commercial services arm of Surf Life Saving NSW says 40 lifesavers will be employed under the new deal which it claims will save the local government $400,000 a year over attempting to deliver the services internally.

The win for the beachside icons comes as the group increasingly competes against local governments looking to provide their own rescue beach patrol and services in councils like Waverly that include Bondi Beach.

“Pittwater Council continues to recognise the value presented to ratepayers through the seamless integration of paid Lifeguards with local volunteer lifesaving services, which includes sharing of valuable resources to avoid duplication and the extension of support operations beyond service hours,” Surf Life Saving NSW said in a statement.

While surf lifesaving was once the domain of well-bronzed volunteers, councils are increasingly contesting beach patrol deals amid shrinking budgets.

“It is clear in the current environment the contracting of services is on every local council agenda, evidenced by a neighbouring (Warringah) Council submitting a tender, Wyong Council going to tender for Lifeguard services and other Councils contacting the ALS discreetly to ascertain the significance of financial savings, efficiencies and the value to the local community”, Surf Life Saving NSW Operations Manager, Matt Rodwell said.

“With future asset and infrastructure maintenance at the core of all council budgets, councils are seeking budget relief in out-sourcing some traditional services – the contracting of Lifeguard services presents as a fiscally viable alternative given the ALS’ ability to generate efficiencies for Council whilst maintaining an industry best-practice service delivery.”

The trend that has prompted Surf Lifesavers to defend their sandy turf has a more serious side.

Tourism and destination marketing authorities are understood to be keen to retain the well-recognised recue talent on the states beaches not only as insurance against overseas visitors drowning but also as a way to entice more tourists to Australia.

One potential issue is that if beach patrols are curtailed during the summers long daylight hours, the risk of serious accidents or drowning increases and could dampen appetite to visit Australia as a destination after the tourism industry was hit by a slum in arrivals thanks to a high Aussie dollar.

[post_title] => Lifesavers battle rival councils for beach patrol business [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => lifesavers-battle-rival-councils-for-beach-patrol-business [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-07-12 09:31:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-07-12 09:31:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 2 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23287 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-03-08 11:36:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-08 00:36:01 [post_content] => Rally2   NSW councils are refusing to go quietly, with many continuing to rail publicly against Premier Mike Baird’s forced merger program to axe forty councils. Woollahra Council, in Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs, is putting legal pressure on NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole to abandon plans to merge it with Randwick and Waverley Councils or face Sydney silk Bret Walker, SC in court. The council’s solicitors, Speed and Stracey, have written to Mr Toole arguing that he does not have the authority to force mergers onto councils under the Local Government Act. The solicitors contested that changes made to the Act in 1999 streamlined voluntary council amalgamations - not forced mergers, provisions for which remain in the old act but are significantly more arduous - and gave him seven days to drop his plans or face a legal challenge. Should the council succeed, it will turn up the political pain for the state government and could restart the entire merger process under a different section of the Local Government Act, dragging it on for multiple months. Mr Toole has said he wants to see new councils in place by June this year but Woollahra’s audacious challenge is just one of the acts of council-led legal obstruction, many of them occurring in Liberal-voting heartlands, which could seriously derail his plans. Several councils, particularly those divided up under earlier merger proposals, have submitted new plans after Warringah Council found a loophole in the Local Government Act (1993) allowing them to submit a rival plan for a Northern Beaches Council. Warringah’s new proposal would mean it was no longer be split between a part merger with Pittwater and another with Mosman and Manly Councils as it is under an alternative merger plan. A clutch of regional councils have taken the same path to avoid being splintered. Jerilderie Shire Council has submitted a proposal to merge with Murrumbidgee and keep its local government area intact, rather than split between Berrigan Shire and Murrumbidgee, as the original proposal outlined. Palerang has opted to amalgamate solely with Queanbeyan, rather than lose part of its council area to a merger with Goulburn Mulwaree as well. Some councils have used the loophole in a bid to merge with fewer councils. Corowa Shire also submitted an alternative proposal – the same as that recommended by the Independent Local Government Panel’s 2013 report - to merge with Urana Shire Council, rather than with Lockhart Shire too. But it has further complicated matters for Mr Toole, who has been forced to submit new proposals - in the form of a one-page letter - for alternative mergers to fit around new proposals, such as mergers between Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby, Dungog and Maitland and another between Boorowa and Young. It has also meant another round of public inquiries to seek ratepayers’ feedback on the new proposals. Rebellious councils are keeping up the pressure with a rally, Local Democracy Not Dictatorship, held at 12pm Sunday, March 13 at Hyde Park Fountain, led by Save Our Councils Coalition. [post_title] => We shall not be merged: NSW councils deploy guerilla legal tactics [post_excerpt] => Woollahra gives government seven days to drop merger plans. 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warringah-council

warringah-council

Lifesavers battle rival councils for beach patrol business

By Julian Bajkowski Surf lifesavers have breathed life back into a cornerstone contract in New South Wales after Speedo-clad rescuers Australian Lifeguard Services successfully revived its contract with Sydney’s Pittwater Council to patrol nine beaches. The commercial services arm of Surf Life Saving NSW says 40 lifesavers will be employed under the new deal which […]