Merger ‘could reduce costs’

MERGING councils could lead to greater efficiency and reduced staff costs, according to Hills deputy mayor Michelle Byrne.

But critics say the move would see councils lose their localised nature.

The Sydney Business Chamber recently proposed cutting Sydney’s 41 councils down to 10 ‘‘larger, better resourced local government areas’’.

‘‘It’s absurd that in the 21st century we have local government boundaries that were developed in the 19th century, leaving 41 local councils each with their own agendas across the Sydney basin,’’ executive director of the chamber Patricia Forsythe said.

‘‘What we should be doing is looking at specific regions of Sydney and building local governments that enhance the assets of the area.’’

But Cr Byrne said while she supported voluntary amalgamations, she wanted to see evidence of the benefits to residents before advocating a merger.

‘‘The amalgamation of council areas would provide for a more effective use of combined resources, thus providing better provision of infrastructure and services to residents,’’ Cr Byrne said.

‘‘The reduction of the number of council areas in Sydney would also allow for integrated service provision across an entire region, ultimately improving the effectiveness of local government in the delivery of services.’’

But Graeme Kelly, general secretary of the United Services Union, said amalgamations would silence the public’s voice.

He said local government had suffered endless cutbacks, restructures and rounds of redundancy in the last 20 years.

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