At midday on Thursday 12th May the Proclamation was published abolishing Manly, Warringah & Pittwater Councils and creating one Northern Beaches Council, to be run by an Administrator until the next Council elections in September 2017.
By the end of the day Councillors were notified by staff that their emails had been switched off and access keys decommissioned. All Resident Community Precinct Groups were told they were disbanded. The community was in shock – it all happened so fast.
Enter the Administrator …
Dick Persson has been appointed by the Premier to form the new Council. (Mr Persson is well-known and highly regarded as the former Administrator of Warringah Council from 2003-2008).
He quickly appointed former Pittwater General Manager, Mark Ferguson, as the overall GM, with Henry Wong (Manly) and Ric Hart (Warringah) as Deputy GMs, along with the existing six Deputy GMs. All general staff have been guaranteed their jobs for three years. However some changes will obviously need to be made at the top level.
Former Councillors were contacted by the Administrator and invited to continue contributing on interim committees.
One Week Later ….
The first Extraordinary Council Meeting was called on 19th May by the Administrator, at the former Manly Council Chambers.
A packed gallery was personally greeted by Mr Perssons, “call me Dick”, setting the tone for a relaxed and engaging meeting.
One hour was set aside for the public forum with 15 speakers addressing issues such as the Oval Car Park (of course), Manly2015 Plan, Plastic Free July, Sydney Road upgrade, the future role of precincts and cost issues in relation with the new Swim Centre.
Mr Persson was attentive, polite and asked questions.
One Northern Beaches Parking Sticker
The Administrator replaces the Councillors, therefore any matter on the agenda, he decides.
First item of business – he initiates one Northern Beach parking sticker, effective immediately, although Manly residents will need to wait three weeks for new stickers to be issued.
He stated that while technology can generally be a good thing, in the case of ticketless parking meters this clearly had not worked.
Manly ratepayers will get their parking stickers back! This will entitle us to park anywhere on the Peninsula - at the beaches, parks and reserves for free all day; and four hours will remain at Manly beachfront, Shelly Beach, Clontarf, Sandy Bay and Spit Bridge.
Each household will receive two stickers, which will be posted in the next couple of weeks.
Manly Precinct Forum Groups
The Premier, Mike Baird, has given an undertaking that the precincts are to continue under the interim Council. It is expected that the Administrator will address this issue shortly.
Council Interim Committees
Former Mayors Jean Hay and Michael Regan, and former Deputy Mayor, Kylie Ferguson, will be part of a newly established Implementation Advisory Group, and will chair new Local Representation Committees made up of many former councillors from all three councils. These committees, under the headings of Social, Environment and Economic, will provide advice and guidance to the Administrator.
The next Council elections will be September 2017.
One Point Of Interest …
Mr Persson stated that overall the Government received 28,000 submissions in relation to the state-wide amalgamation proposals, 18,000 were from the Northern Beaches with the majority supporting one council.
The meeting concluded with the public invited to stay for refreshments. The next meeting will be held at Pittwater in two weeks, and future meetings will rotate amongst the old council areas for the time being.
In the meantime it is business as usual with Customer Service Counters operating at Manly, Pittwater and Dee Why.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.