Council's media releases on the forced merger

The Court of Appeal has found in favour of Ku-ring-gai Council in a decision handed down today.

Issued on 27 March 2017

Acting Justice Sackville delivered the verdict by a panel of three judges at 10.15am on Monday 27 March, finding that there were reasons in law why the proposal to forcibly merge Ku-ring-gai Council and Hornsby Shire should not proceed in its current form.

Speaking after the judgement was handed down, Mayor Anderson said she was ‘heartened’ by the court’s decision.

“The very real concerns of our Council and residents over this merger have been ignored by the government and we feel vindicated by today’s decision.”

“This merger should not proceed because Ku-ring-gai ratepayers will be robbed of the means to decide how and where our rates are spent - and of any real say in how our local area is managed.”

“We believe the court’s decision signals a turning point for Premier Berejiklian’s government. If they continue with the merger process they will be flying in the face of our community and the court.”

The Mayor said she and her councillor colleagues would wait to see what the state government would do after the court’s decision.

“We will continue to seek meetings with Premier Berejiklian and the Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton to press our case against being forcibly merged with Hornsby,” Mayor Anderson said.

“When Premier Berejiklian was elected as leader of the government she promised to listen to the people. We have had to go to court to get the government to listen to us and I am seeking a change of heart from the Premier on this issue as a matter of urgency.”

The full text of the court's judgement can be read here.

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Forced merger between Ku-ring-gai Council and Hornsby Shire to continue, according to NSW Government

Issued on 14 February 2017

Premier Berejiklian has today announced that the state government will continue pursuing a forced merger between the two councils.

Speaking after the announcement, Mayor Anderson said she was both frustrated and disappointed that the “very real concerns of our Council and our residents have been disregarded by the government.”

“I had hoped that Premier Berejiklian and the Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton’s promise to listen to the community would see a new approach to local government reform, but it appears our hopes have been dashed by this decision. Polling of our residents shows 80% oppose the proposed merger with Hornsby Shire.”

The Mayor said she and her councillor colleagues were “particularly aggrieved that regional councils – many of which met none of the government’s criteria to stand alone are now not being forced to merge - yet Ku-ring-gai, which met all of the State Government’s seven criteria for financial stability, is still proposed to be forcibly merged with Hornsby Shire. Both are already large councils with populations far in excess of 100,000 residents.”

“The proposed council would be over 250,000 people with the Hornsby Shire largely rural and river land whereas Ku-ring-gai is an urban area with strong links to the city. There are quite different communities of interest. Clearly, a one size fits all model across Sydney is equally problematic in our case.”

“Our record of delivering infrastructure and new open space has been highlighted by the Greater Sydney Commission. The two major projects we are currently working on underline this with the redevelopment of Turramurra and Lindfield centres worth a combined total of $300 million, delivering new public facilities as well as housing.”

“Our Council’s main concern is the negative effect on our ratepayers, whose rates could rise by up to 30% if this merger proceeds due to the disparity in land values across the two council areas. The proposed new council of six councillors from the Ku-ring-gai area and nine from the Hornsby area would see little to no capacity for future decisions over Ku-ring-gai to be made by its own elected representatives.”

The Mayor added that the Council would continue with its action in the Court of Appeal regarding the proposed merger, which is scheduled for 16 and 17 February.

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au 

Discussions held with local state MPs

Issued 13 February

Mayor Jennifer Anderson has held discussions on the proposed forced merger with state members Jonathan O’Dea and Alister Henskens.

Mayor Anderson said that both MPs had responded promptly to her request and expressed a willingness to discuss the issue, following representations from the Council.

“They understand that the merger is of great concern to ratepayers and they committed to present Council’s position to remain a stand-alone council to their Parliamentary colleagues,” the Mayor said.

Mayor Anderson added that Ku-ring-gai Council met or exceeded all seven criteria set by the state government to decide a council’s long-term sustainability.

The Mayor said she had welcomed Premier Berejiklian’s undertaking when she became Premier that she would review the policy of forced Council mergers across the state and listen to the community.

Mayor Anderson said she had written to the Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton and Premier Berejiklian seeking urgent meetings regarding Ku-ring-gai Council’s status.

“I have done this due to Council’s Court of Appeal action scheduled to be heard this week.”

“I am committed to working cooperatively with Premier Berejiklian on local government reform, but our council remains adamant that we have the capacity and the community desire to stand alone,” she said. 

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Mayor requests meeting with Premier, State members to discuss Ku-ring-gai's future

Issued on 1 February 2017

The Mayor of Ku-ring-gai has written to local State members, the new Minister for Local Government and the Premier requesting meetings to put forward the case why Ku-ring-gai should not be merged with Hornsby.

“The Premier has indicated that she will listen to the community on Council mergers, so we want to take the opportunity given by this perceived change in attitude to voice our community’s strong desire to remain a standalone council” Jennifer Anderson Mayor of Ku-ring-gai said.

Ku-ring-gai Council is a high-performing Council that has delivered a multi-million dollar program of major infrastructure and new facilities for its residents and continues to meet all Government benchmarks for financial sustainability and planning targets set by the Greater Sydney Commission.

Cr Anderson suggested that, in considering any merger, the additional burden on ratepayers from increased rates, along with expenses incurred by new IT systems, redundancies and re-branding need to be taken into account.

“Our documented evidence confirms that the proposed merger with Hornsby Shire offers no benefit to our community. Indeed it could well prove detrimental,” said the Mayor.

Ku-ring-gai (120,000 population) and Hornsby Shire Council (150,000 population) are large Councils already and both are capable of standing alone as has been proven by the benchmarks set by IPART. A large council stretching from urban Roseville to rural Wiseman’s Ferry would have extremely divergent communities of interest.

“It would be beneficial for all concerned to put this issue to bed and end legal actions” she said.

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Media enquiries: Virginia Leafe Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 0419 423 651 or vleafe@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Mayor welcomes Premier's pledge to listen to community

Issued on 31 January 2017

Mayor Jennifer Anderson has congratulated Gladys Berejiklian on becoming the 45th Premier of NSW and welcomed her pledge to listen to the community on the issue of forced council mergers.

Mayor Anderson said that Premier Berejiklian’s public comment that there were opportunities to listen to the community on mergers was ‘warmly received’.

“I would be honoured to meet with the Premier to discuss the impact of the proposed forced merger on our community,” Mayor Anderson said.

Mayor Anderson said that in 2015, Ku-ring-gai Council had met all seven financial criteria set by the State Government to prove its sustainability, yet was still proposed to be forcibly merged with Hornsby Council.

“Ku-ring-gai continues to meet or exceed State Government targets for policy and planning development.”

“Our Council has also received high praise for its outstanding achievements from Dr Deborah Dearing, Northern Sydney Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission.”

The Mayor said that the Council ‘shares Premier Berejiklian’s vision of providing infrastructure and services to the community and delivering more affordable housing choices’.

Among the achievements outlined by Mayor Anderson were:

  • Submitting a development application for construction of the Lindfield Village Green project worth $20 million
  • Masterplanning for the creation of the $150 million Lindfield Community Hub and an accompanying submission to the NSW Office of Local Government
  • Meeting density and new development targets set by the Greater Sydney Commission
  • Being one of the first NSW councils to adopt and implement a Disability Inclusion Action Plan since 2015. All councils have been set a deadline by the State
  • Government of July 2017 to submit their disability action plans
  • Completion of the $20 million sportsfield and golf course complex at North Turramurra
  • Completion of the $15 million Ku-ring-gai Fitness and Aquatic Centre
  • Completion of the first synthetic sportsfield at Lindfield

The Council’s award-winning Open Space Acquisition Strategy which has delivered 23,000 square metres of new public land for parks and playgrounds.

Mayor Anderson said she looked forward to Premier Berejiklian putting her own stamp on the Government under her leadership.

I am committed to working cooperatively with Premier Berejiklian to deliver a continuing program of benefits for the community” she said.

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Mayors ‘disappointed’ by lack of response

Issued on 5 September 2016

Premier Mike Baird has failed to respond to a letter written by concerned mayors and councillors from seven NSW local government areas facing forced mergers.

The letter called for the Premier to consult with the seven councils and to suspend the merger process for the time being.

Mayors from Mosman, Hunter's Hill, Ku-ring-gai and Strathfield along with their regional counterparts from Cabonne, Oberon and Shellharbour councils sent an open letter to the Premier last Tuesday urging him to respond within a week.

The group requested that the Premier suspend the threat of forced mergers for all councils in NSW for the immediate future, meet the councils' representatives to hear their concerns first hand and agree to poll residents and ratepayers about mergers which would then only proceed with majority support.

Mayor Cheryl Szatow said the elected officials from metropolitan and regional communities had hoped to receive at least an acknowledgement of their concerns from the Premier.

"Unfortunately there has been minimal consultation over the past two years between the State Government and local councils and we believe it's up to the Premier, not only his minister, to listen to the will of the people," Mayor Szatow said.

Convenor of the group Mayor Peter Abelson from Mosman said he was ‘disappointed we have not received a reply to this important letter raising concerns from democratically elected mayors and councillors representing a quarter of a million residents and ratepayers.’

"Despite the Premier's lack of response we still wish to work together with the NSW Government to seek a cooperative outcome for the greater good of Sydney and the state.’

The group plans to meet again soon to discuss its next steps.

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Court judgement on forced merger announced

Issued on 20 September 2016

Update 26 September 2016

Ku-ring-gai Council's solicitors are in the process of lodging an appeal to the Court of Appeal against Justice Moore’s judgment in the Land and Environment Court. Council will also be asking the Minister for Local Government to extend his promise not to recommend amalgamation to the Governor until the appeal has been heard and decided by the Court of Appeal.

View our Council mergers website to remain up to date on this issue

Media release 20 September 2016

Ku-ring-gai Council has been partially successful in its case against a forced merger with Hornsby Council.

Justice Moore of the Land & Environment Court delivered his judgementon Tuesday 20 September. Following the ruling the court received an undertaking from the NSW Minister for Local Government that Ku-ring-gai will remain a stand alone council until Tuesday 27 September, meaning that an appeal must be lodged before that date. A decision as to an appeal will be considered by the Council.

Speaking after Justice Moore’s findings were made public, Mayor Cheryl Szatow said that while the Council’s case had been partially successful and costs were reserved, ‘the overall judgement is nonetheless disappointing for the Ku-ring-gai community.’

“The judge has declined to make orders preventing the forcible merger and that is a concern. However the Council will review the judgement carefully in light of other decisions made today on councils fighting forced mergers and consider our next steps.”

“Our concern has always been how Ku-ring-gai will be treated as the junior partner in a merger with Hornsby Council. Our residents will have very little say in how or where their rates will be spent.”

Mayor Szatow added she would stand as an independent candidate for the mayoralty, following her resignation last week from the Killara branch of the NSW Liberal Party.

“I cannot in all conscience stand by and watch 111 years of Ku-ring-gai Council be demolished by the stroke of a pen. Resigning from the Liberal Party means I am now free to stand again as an independent Mayor and if I am elected, I will continue the fight against this merger on behalf of the people of Ku-ring-gai.”

Read the court judgement in full.

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

City and country councils facing amalgamations join forces

Issued on 23 August 2016

Mayors and councillors from seven local government areas around NSW facing forced amalgamation have called upon Premier Baird to suspend his ‘undemocratic’ merger program.

Elected officials from Mosman, Hunter's Hill, Ku-ring-gai and Strathfield along with their regional counterparts from Cabonne, Oberon and Shellharbour councils, which represent local government areas with a total population of over a quarter of a million residents and ratepayers, penned an open letter to the Premier urging him to reconsider the program.

"As the democratically elected leaders of over a quarter of a million residents and dozens of communities in both rural and urban New South Wales, we are disturbed by the processes adopted in the recent inquiries into the proposals to forcibly amalgamate councils," the group wrote.

"These inquiries undertook no polling of local communities and the Delegate reports largely ignored the overwhelming majority of articulate and deeply felt submissions opposed to the proposals. In our view this process was not democratic or fair.

"We request that you respond to the wishes of our communities and your citizens by suspending the threat of forced amalgamations for all councils in NSW for the immediate future."

The letter also requested a meeting to "hear our concerns first hand that the process to date has been undemocratic and, importantly, to discuss alternative ways of meeting your Government’s strategic objectives" and that the government agree to poll residents and ratepayers about amalgamations which would then only occur with majority support.

Mosman Mayor Peter Abelson invited a number of metro and regional councils to attend a top-level meeting in Mosman prior to penning the letter so that elected officials from metropolitan and regional areas facing potential amalgamation had the opportunity to jointly convey their concerns to the Premier. The two-hour meeting held on Wednesday 17 August was attended by representatives from Mosman, Hunter's Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Strathfield and Woollahra, along with their regional counterparts from Cabonne, Oberon and Shellharbour.

"Ku-ring-gai Council is firmly opposed to the forced amalgamation of councils and we welcome the initiative of Mosman Council that brings our concerns directly to the Premier," Mayor Cheryl Szatow said.

The letter requested a response from the Premier within a week and the group will meet again in the near future.

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Merger decision postponed pending outcome of legal action

Issued on 12 May 2016

The official proclamation by the state government today outlines 19 new council areas, with nine pending due to court action.

Premier Mike Baird has indicated the government’s ‘in-principle’ support for a merger between Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils, but has postponed a final decision until legal action is completed.

Ku-ring-gai and the state government will be in court again on 18 May.

Speaking today Mayor Cheryl Szatow said she was hopeful that Ku-ring-gai could still be spared a forced merger with Hornsby.

“Our residents have nothing to gain from a merger with another council whose Mayor shows little but thinly disguised contempt for Ku-ring-gai and all it stands for.”

“We still don’t have an adequate explanation as to why two well-run financially viable organisations such as Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby are being forced together when they clearly have so little in common.”

Click here for more information about the state government’s merger.

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Mayor's Message: Council merger update

Issued on 22 April 2016
You may have read  the story in this paper on Wednesday regarding the Council’s legal action to try and obtain disclosure of the KPMG report.

This report was commissioned by the Baird government as the basis for all their arguments as to why council mergers are necessary. The government has steadfastly refused to hand over a copy of the full report to everyone who has requested it, despite many freedom of information requests from councils and journalists alike.

At the time of writing, we are continuing with action in the Land & Environment Court to try and obtain a copy of the full KPMG report.
Our community deserves the right to have the full facts on council mergers presented to them, before 110 years of Ku-ring-gai Council history is demolished by the state government in the stroke of a pen.

I am fearful that our council will be abolished in the near future, but rest assured that as Mayor, I will keep fighting for our community right to the end.

Delegate’s report on forced merger with Hornsby revealed

Issued on 17 April 2016

Garry West’s report to the state government mirrors the state government’s pre-ordained position that Ku-ring-gai should be forcibly merged with Hornsby Council.

Ku-ring-gai Council has successfully obtained a copy of the Delegate’s report, in proceedings against the state government in the Supreme Court.

Delegates appointed by the Baird government to examine the case for forced mergers submitted their reports to the government at the end of March. Until the Council’s court action, the reports have been kept secret.

However in the case mounted by the Council, the Baird government was forced to hand over a copy of the Delegate Garry West’s report.

Justice Elizabeth Fullerton’s decision to move Ku-ring-gai Council’s case from the Supreme Court to the Land Environment Court disclosed the delegate Garry West’s recommendation that “the proposal as submitted should proceed to implementation”.

Ku-ring-gai Mayor Cheryl Szatow said “Garry West’s report does nothing to dispel the cynicism surrounding the whole merger process that is being stage managed by the Baird government.”

“This is a Premier and a government that has wasted millions and millions of dollars over the last four years pushing the merger process, when the outcome was already decided.”

“Premier Baird has never been interested in the community’s views on mergers.”

“This is a state government that rules by decree, not democracy.”

 She singled out Mr West’s report as ‘superficial and misleading’.

According to the Mayor, some of the ‘most incredulous’ parts of the report include:

  • Despite 83% of submissions and speakers at the public inquiry expressing strong opposition to the merger, consistent with the results of an independent survey conducted in 2015, those views were discounted as ‘no impediment to the amalgamation proposal’.   In fact, the attitude of ratepayers and residents is a mandatory legal consideration under Section 263 of the Local Government Act.
  • His financial conclusions for why a merger should proceed based on superseded data and without the KPMG report, which has still not been publicly released. The Delegate accepted the state government’s financial claims about mergers without testing the veracity of those claims.
  • An allegation that Ku-ring-gai Council had manipulated residents’ submissions to the public inquiry with form letters, which is untrue.

Mayor Szatow said the contents of the Delegate’s report were based on a ‘cookie-cutter template, designed to deliver the state government what it wants.’

 “At every stage of this process, people across NSW have been denied their most basic democratic rights. To dismiss over 80% of residents’ opposition to the Ku-ring-gai Hornsby merger as no impediment would be an outrageous abuse of government power.”

 “We have had a procession of reports from IPART, KMPG and now the Delegates either suppressed or dismissed by the Baird government so they can force communities into a corner from which there is no way out.”

 Mayor Szatow added that Ku-ring-gai Council could cease to exist in ‘a matter of days’.

 “We will keep fighting for our residents rights in the courts till we have exhausted every avenue, but I fear that our Council is very close to the brink now”.

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Media contact: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council 9424 0982, 0400 321 727 or emailsawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Council takes legal action on forced merger proposal

Issued on 29 March 2016

The KPMG report was commissioned by the government last year as a means of reinforcing its argument for forced council mergers across NSW.

In the case of Ku-ring-gai this would mean a forced merger with Hornsby by mid 2016 to create a 'super council' of nearly 300,000 residents.

Ku-ring-gai Council had sought the release of the full KPMG report under the GIPA (Government Information & Privacy Act) freedom of information legislation.

However the request was refused twice by the government.

The Council is now seeking orders in the Supreme Court to force the government to release the report in full.

Mayor Cheryl Szatow said the decision to take legal action had not been taken lightly. "However residents have the right to have the full facts concerning the merger proposal.”

“Our community have told the government through surveys, submissions and in person at the public inquiry that they are strongly against a merger with Hornsby Council."

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Supreme Court on 5 April.

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Media contact: Sally Williams 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Ku-ring-gai Council presents a strong case to stand alone

Issued on 29 February 2016

Mayor Cheryl Szatow points to the Council’s submission to the NSW Government as evidence that a forced merger with Hornsby ‘has no basis in fact’.

The submission was lodged before the deadline of Sunday 28 February for public feedback on council mergers imposed by the NSW Government.

Ku-ring-gai Council’s submission will be assessed by the Delegate appointed by the state government, Mr Garry West, who will report back in early April.

The Council’s submission is publicly available on its website at www.kmc.nsw.gov.au

Mayor Cheryl Szatow said the Council remained united its belief that it was large enough and financially strong enough to remain a stand alone council.

“Premier Baird and Minister Toole continue to push the line that councils are losing $1 million a day, which is blatantly untrue,” the Mayor said.

“The latest analysis of publicly available data on NSW Councils shows they are actually making half a million dollars a day!”

She urged residents to continue contacting their local state MPs to express their opinion on the proposed forced merger with Hornsby Council, which could come into effect by June this year.

“The government has no mandate to force a merger between Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils – and no plan on how to make it happen without causing massive disruption.”

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Media contact: Sally Williams 9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au 

Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby residents urged to attend public inquiry on council mergers

Issued on Monday 25 January 2016

Ratepayers from the Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby communities must register by noon on Friday 29 January for the public inquiry on Wednesday 3 February.

The public inquiry will be held over two sessions on 3 February at Pymble Golf Club, Cowan Road St Ives. Session times are 1pm-5pm and 7pm-10pm.

To attend or speak at the inquiry, residents must register online at the Council Boundary Review website or call 1300 813 020 before 12 noon on Friday 29 January. Residents can attend both sessions if they wish but can only speak at one.

Mayor Cheryl Szatow said it was essential that as many Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby residents as possible attend the inquiry and have their say.

“This is one of two final opportunities for the public to make their views known on the proposed merger between Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils.”

“Residents from both communities can also make a submission on the merger proposal by 28 February, either online or by mail.”

“Submissions will be assessed and reported back to the NSW Government by Mr Garry West, the Delegate appointed by the government to assess community feedback and coordinate the public inquiry.”

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Media contact: Sally Williams, Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982

Last chance for the community to have their say on Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Shire merger proposal

Issued on Wednesday January 13

The State Government have released more details on how Ku-ring-gai Council and the community can have their final say on their Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Shire merger proposal, inviting the community to attend a public inquiry at Pymble Golf Course on Wednesday February 3, 1pm – 5pm OR  7pm – 10pm.

This is in addition to the community being able to lodge a written statement in response to the merger proposal by 5pm Sunday February 28.

Following this final round of community consultation, Delegate Mr Garry West will report back to the Baird government and Boundaries Commission for a final decision.

This follows the Baird Government announcement just before Christmas that Ku-ring-gai Council is to be forcibly merged with Hornsby Shire to create a new council of around 270,000 residents.

“This latest announcement demonstrates just how fast State Government is working to bring on local government amalgamations across NSW,” said Mayor Cheryl Szatow.

“I encourage residents to attend the public inquiry or make written submissions to the delegate, as this is the only opportunity to have your voice heard.

“While Council will be responding to each clause in detail, it is important for you to  consider how the changes proposed may affect your daily lives when Council boundaries expand from the current Ku-ring-gai area of 86 square kilometres to an area of some 541 square kilometres in an amalgamated Council and from 120,000 residents to upwards of 270,000 in the combined Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils.”

For more information on how to have your say and to stay updated on the Ku-ring-gai Council’s position visit www.kmc.nsw.gov.au/forcedmergers.

How to lodge a submission

Submissions may be made in the form of a letter, short written document or a longer paper and may include appendices and other supporting documentation. The community can lodge a submission online or through mail. Details are:

1)   Council Boundary Review website

2)    Mail: GPO Box 5341, Sydney, NSW 2001

Public inquiry details

Where: Pymble Golf Club, Cowan Road, St Ives

When: Wednesday 3 February

Times: 1pm – 5pm AND 7pm – 10pm
How to register to attend or speak: Contact 1300 813 020 or throug the Council Boundary Review website

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Media enquiries: Neha Malhotra 9424 0897, 0481 439 658  or  nmalhotra@kmc.nsw.gov.au

NSW Government releases merger proposal for Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Shire Council

Issued on Friday January 8
Ku-ring-gai Council and the community have been given until Sunday February 28 to lodge written submissions in response to the NSW Government merger proposal for Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Shire Council (part). This follows the Baird Government announcement just before Christmas that Ku-ring-gai Council is to be forcibly merged with Hornsby Shire to create a new council of around 270,000 residents.

The merger proposal outlines what the NSW Government describes as the “impacts, benefits and opportunities of creating a new council by merging Hornsby Shire and Ku-ring-gai councils”.

The proposal and submissions will be examined and reported on in accordance with the requirements in the Local Government Act (1993) by Delegate Mr Garry West, who has been selected to act on behalf of The Chief Executive of the Office of Local Government.

Ku-ring-gai Council Mayor Cheryl Szatow welcomes the opportunity to work with Delegate Mr Garry West, however remains concerned about  the speed and bullish approach in which the Baird Government continue to push through their agenda of forced council amalgamations.
“Council remains firm in our belief that merging with Hornsby Council is not in the best interests of Ku-ring-gai residents,” said Ku-ring-gai Council Mayor Cheryl Szatow.

“We look forward to working with Delegate Mr Garry West and sharing the extensive community consultation and comprehensive research that we have conducted to come to this conclusion.

“The NSW government have indicated that reviewing the submissions will be one of the most important ways for Delegates to gather information. So I encourage the community to please continue to speak up and have their say by visiting the Council Boundary Website and making a submission”.

The community can view the merger proposal and lodge a submission by visiting the Council Boundary Review Website at www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au.

For more information and to stay updated on the Ku-ring-gai Council’s position visit www.kmc.nsw.gov.au/forcedmergers

About Delegate Mr Garry West

Council’s delegate is Mr Garry West. He was elected to the NSW Parliament in 1976 as the Member for Orange and retained the seat until 1996. During this time he served as Minister and Shadow Minister for various portfolios, including Energy, Local Government, and Police and Emergency Services.

Following his retirement, Garry entered the private sector as the Public Affairs Manager for Unifoods, a division of Unilever Australia Pty Ltd until being appointed as Corporate Relations Manager for Unilever.

Garry currently serves as Chair of the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel and Independent Chair for the Caroona Coal Project Consultative Committee, and is a member of the Planning Assessment Commission.

Mr West is also the delegate for the “Hills-Hawkesbury” proposal.

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Media enquiries: Neha Malhotra 9424 0897, 0481 439 658  or nmalhotra@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Ku-ring-gai Council to be forcibly merged with Hornsby Shire

Issued on Friday December 18

The Baird Government has announced today that it intends to merge Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils and postpone local government elections until 2017.

The decision was relayed to NSW Mayors through an online conference hosted by Premier Mike Baird and Local Government Minister Paul Toole.

The Baird government will begin a process through the NSW Boundaries Commission to reduce the number of Sydney councils from 43 to 25.

Local council elections due to be held in September 2016 will be postponed until March 2017 while the merger process is underway. Under the plan, Ku-ring-gai will be forcibly merged with Hornsby Shire to form a new council area.

The Baird government has indicated that current Councils will remain in place until elections are held in 2017 and council services should continue as normal.

Mayor Cheryl Szatow condemned the forced merger process outlined by the Baird government.

“Under this process, state government appointed delegates reporting to the Minister will consult communities. Councils will be sidelined from consulting residents.”

“It is clear however that, as has been the case with the whole council reform process, the government has already made up its mind about what it intends to do and is not interested in the community’s view,” Mayor Szatow said.

“The independent research we commissioned which showed between 79% and 86% of our residents were against a merger with Hornsby has simply been ignored.

“Comprehensive studies we conducted indicated that Ku-ring-gai residents would be worse off in an amalgamated Council. I don’t understand how this can be ignored when the Baird government are all about efficiencies for local government.”

Mayor Szatow said the merger process could begin as early as the first week of January 2016.

“This is when the government intends to release guidelines about how the process will be managed. We will keep our residents informed as much as we are able to, in the meantime, via our website.”

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Media contact: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council  9424 0982 or sawilliams@kmc.nsw.gov.au