Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed last Tuesday that the merger of Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra Councils will proceed. But she didn’t state whether existing Councillors would remain in place up to the next elections.
Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson has responded with a successful Council urgency motion calling for the retention of Councillors to oversee the Council’s prepared transition plans for implementing the merger.
Council will contact the Premier reiterating that Randwick’s preference was to stand-alone and that Councillors should continue to serve post-merger in any new Council. Councillor Matson said;
“None of the Councillors have liked the idea of Randwick being merged as we have been financially sustainable since 2004. But we accepted that it would happen and we and our magnificent staff have prepared extensive merger transition plans to make it as seamless an experience as we can for the residents of all three eastern suburbs Councils. We would be the most prepared NSW Council for a merger. And we have done it because we regarded it as due diligence to ensure that services such as child care centres, rubbish pickups, and library availability all work perfectly from day zero of the new Council.”
Councillor Matson points to a list of contentious issues that he says “could start to drift against residents interests if only administrators are left in charge by the Premier.”
“Constituents frequently contact Councillors about the impact of construction works for the CSELR light rail project which won’t be finished for a couple years. I want Councillors to maintain control of the funding in the Randwick Council’s Light Rail Support Plan that I put up to help local business and South Juniors cope with loss of parking.
And it was sitting Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey and former Mayor Scott Nash who responded to Ms Rickie-Lee McLaurin-Smith’s campaign to save High Cross Park from the light rail interchange.”
Councillor emphasised the need for elected Councillors to control and curb a development push in Kensington and Kingsford saying:
“Then there is the draft Kensington and Kingsford Planning Strategy that Councillors want to use to lock out uncontrolled ‘spot’ rezoning proposals to build 25 storey towers. Without sitting Councillors to push for it the draft strategy could either be ignored by the State Government or inappropriately amended to placate the developer lobbyists from the Urban Task Force.”
Randwick Council is larger than both Woollahra and Waverley. Most of the Randwick Councillors all seem to agree that they don’t want to see the new centre of administration and governance moving north into what is presently Waverley Council territory. Councillor Matson said:
“Allied to that is the rivalry between Waverley and Randwick Councillors over whether the new Council’s administration centre should be up in Bondi Junction or sited locally on the old Kingsford market site, which we regard as more conveniently located for future constituents. It will after all be on the CSELR light rail line.”
There are also a host of more localized issues that residents routinely expect Councillors to
speak up on such as:
- Arguing for residents against proposals to use the contaminated surplus land on the surplus Defence land at Bundock Street for a construction depot;
- Maintaining opposition to the liquor prohibition at the East Ward Senior Citizens Center;
- Building heights at Maroubra and Coogee Beaches;
- The scale of redevelopment of the Bondi Pavilion;
- Maintaining the Laperouse Chinese Markets as an urban food farm;
- Funding local projects needed by schools, sport associations, surf clubs, community gardens, artists and child care centres;
- Adjudicating parking competition in residential areas; and
- Myriad small groups of neighbours who want intervention from their elected representatives on local development applications occurring in their street.
BACKGROUND – Resolution to urgency motion by Greens Councillor Murray Matson and as seconded by Councillor Robert Belleli (Tuesday 14th February 2017).
That Council responds to today’s media release by the new NSW Premier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian, by contacting her to congratulate her and:
- a) to remind her that our submission to the Boundaries Commission inquiry on the proposed merger of Randwick with Waverley and Woollahra Councils noted that our community’s preferred position and Council’s resolved position is to stand alone;
- b) should we be merged, formally advise her of the full and comprehensive preparation of Council’s Merger Transition Plan; and
- c) advise that Council prefers the retention of the existing Councillors to provide oversight of the implementation of these transition plans on behalf of our constituents.