Manly Council is not fit for the future according to a report released yesterday by IPART.
Neither are our Northern Beaches neighbours Warringah and Pittwater.
So the three councils have no choice but to merge to form a giant Northern Beaches council stretching from the Spit Bridge to Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
That’s the verdict in the IPART report, which sets out to assess to the viability, or otherwise, of every council in the state. (see copy of relevant Manly pages below, plus full report).
While Manly was judged satisfactory on the financial criteria of sustainability, infrastructure and service management and efficiency, we failed the “scale” test. With a population of only 42,800, we fall way short of the required 251,650 residents.
We’re certainly not alone. Out of 36 councils in the Sydney region, 29 councils, including City of Sydney, failed the fitness test. Most met financial criteria, but were deemed too small.
Advocates of council amalgamation, such as Premier and local MP Mike Baird, say bigger councils would mean ratepayers get better value for money, as well as better services and infrastructure.
But opponents say there’s no evidence that big is necessarily better, and that councils are already grouped into regional organisations, which provide economy of scale purchasing power for many goods and services.
The NSW government has given councils 30 days to respond to the report, although it has already made it clear that amalgamations will take place.
It’s unclear if councils will continue to operate as usual after that date, or if administrators will be brought in, with a possible moratorium on new infrastructure projects until the merger process is complete.
Council elections were scheduled for September next year, but may now be shifted to March 2017.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.