Reform still on horizon
CAMBRIDGE Mayor Simon Withers says it is a certainty that a future government will come back and consolidate the western suburbs councils. The City of Subiaco withdrew from local government reform last Thursday, leaving Subiaco and Town of Cambridge as stand-alone councils. Mr Withers cautioned western suburbs councils that a time would come when a future government resurrected the reform process. “Many councils are in denial on this point,” Mr Withers said. “A quick look at the map shows that the western suburbs councils are desperately in need of consolidation. “Some councils are too small, some have illogical boundaries and taken as a whole, it’s a mess.”
TOWN of Cambridge Mayor Simon Withers says while most councils are celebrating the failed local government reform “like pagans around a maypole”, he regrets the missed opportunity.
Premier Colin Barnett confirmed last Tuesday that councils which did not want to merge would not be forced into the process.
City of Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson and Mr Withers met with Local Government Minister Tony Simpson on Thursday to request Subiaco withdraw from the reform process.
Mrs Henderson said a mutual agreement to abandon the Cambridge-Subiaco merger was reached at the meeting.
“We are confident that the Governor’s orders (to abolish Subiaco from July 1) will be revoked in a couple of weeks,” she said.
“The Minister told us that reform was over for the next decade.”
Mr Withers said he wanted to create a council that did not need any further consolidation, so that Cambridge and Subiaco would not have to go through the process again.
“We are just not big enough to be left alone,” he said.
“Many councils are in denial on this point, but it is a certainty that a future government will come back and consolidate the lot.
“A quick look at the map shows that the western suburbs councils are desperately in need of consolidation. Some councils are too small, some have illogical boundaries and taken as a whole, it’s a mess.”
Mrs Henderson said Subiaco would consider making structural changes to council in the long-term, including reducing the number of councillors to each ward.
“Are we over-represented in terms of wards, having three councillors to each ward, is that something we could look at again?” she said.
Subiaco chief executive Ian Hill said the City had learned a lot during the reform process and he was keen to maintain that momentum by sharpening up its effectiveness and efficiencies.
Mr Withers said Cambridge would be seeking reimbursement for its expenses, which could amount to as much as $500,000.
“I think the (Local Government) Minister is sympathetic but the Government has already said they won’t reimburse councils,” he said.
“A lot of the money we spent was spent at the insistence of the Government. We are disappointed that the process has ended this way because after five years of confusion and disruption we had hoped to come away with something to show for it.”
Cambridge chief executive Jason Buckley will continue working on a report on the organisational structure at the town.
Cambridge Mayor Simon Withers.