Council is disappointed with the 14 February announcement by the State Government that it will proceed with forced Council mergers.
"While we are disappointed with the outcome we welcome the Premier's clarification on the important issue of Council amalgamations", Mayor Hutchens said.
"Lane Cove was hoping that Premier Berejiklian would use her first weeks in office to positively resolve an issue that will affect communities for months and years to come," Clr Hutchens said.
"Following our community consultation we received extensive feedback from the Lane Cove community who clearly opposed forced amalgamation. In addition to concerns about impact to services and rate increases, our community was concerned about loss of representation and local democracy in general. Perhaps if the State Government had listened to our community then we would not be forced to continue with a model that was, by the Premier's own admission today, a one-size-fits-all model".
"Lane Cove has always been happy to pursue reform as long as it didn't come at the expense of local democracy or indeed, local ratepayers" Clr Hutchens said.
Council is due in the Supreme Court in early April for its appeal against the proposed forced merger with Hunter's Hill and City of Ryde councils.
Council is expecting that it will receive legal advice on its appeal prospects in early February at which time it will determine whether to continue with its appeal.
On 19 November Council lodged an appeal with the Land and Environment Court and a Directions Hearing has been set for Wednesday 22 February 2017.
On 22 December 2016 the Supreme Court – Court of Appeal handed down its decision dismissing the Woollahra Council Appeal. The Woollahra Council case is important because it covers many of the issues in dispute.
Lane Cove Council's lawyers are currently analysing the judgement and given the time of year are seeking an extension to any merger by the NSW Government until after our Appeal is heard. In late January Council will consider whether or
not to proceed with an Appeal, given the Woollahra Decision clarifies/removes a
number of the grounds.
At its meeting of Monday 10 October Council resolved to lodge a Notice of Intention to Appeal to recent determination by the Land and Environment Court. This provides Council with the opportunity to lodge an appeal within a 3 month period.
Hunter's Hill Council have now resolved to officially lodge an appeal and therefore all three councils proposed to merge will remain business as usual until such time that the appeal is heard.
Council is disappointed at the outcome of its case in the Land and Environment Court and is yet to decide its next steps. Hunter's Hill Council has recently lodged with the court a Notice of its Intention to Appeal, and the government has agreed to defer any further action on the matter until after the decision on Woollahra Council's appeal is handed down. This means it may not be necessary for Lane Cove to take any further action given any appeal would be in relation to the same judgement as Hunter's Hill. Lane Cove has until 18 October to decide whether to lodge an appeal with the Land and Environment Court.
20 September Update
The Land and Environment Court has officially dismissed
Council's case against the State Government.
Council is awaiting the outcome of its legal proceedings against the State Government. The legal action calls into question the processes the State Government undertook when determining the proposed merger of Lane Cove, Hunter’s Hill and Ryde councils.
It is not known when the Land and Environment Court’s decision will be determined. The case will guide the Minister for Local Government’s decision on whether to proclaim a new Council encompassing the Lane Cove, Hunter’s Hill and Ryde council areas.
In the meantime Council is operating business as usual, commencing projects that have been approved for the 2016/17 financial year and continuing to deliver high-quality services to the Lane Cove community. Once the outcome of the proceedings is known Council will update the community and its website accordingly.
State Government Announces Mergers
On Thursday 12 May the State Government announced 19 new councils across NSW.
Lane Cove was not part of this announcement as the current legal action by Hunter's Hill Council is yet to be determined. The State Government has committed to hearing this case before making its determination on the proposed merger of Lane Cove, Hunter's Hill and Ryde councils.The case is due to be heard week commencing 30 May.
In the interim Council has received a copy of the Delegate's report following the Public Inquiry earlier this year as well as a summary of comments made by the Local Government Boundaries Commission in response to the Delegate's report.
The State Government has created a website www.strongercouncils.nsw.gov.au which details the proposed mergers, confirmed mergers and the implementation for those councils who were officially proclaimed on 12 May.
Council will update the community on any proposed timeframes or announcements should these be made available by the State Government.
Submission lodged by Council
Lane Cove has provided its written response to the State Government's proposed merger of Lane Cove, Hunter's Hill and Ryde councils.
The submission uses the legislative criteria outlined in the State Government's proposal as the means of presenting the strength of Council's capabilities to the Delegate appointed to assess the merger.
Lane Cove's Fit for the Future Merger Proposal Response was lodged by Council on 26 February 2016.
A summary document of key information provides an overview of the key areas discussed within the document.
The public has until 5pm this Sunday, 28 February to make their submission.
To make an online submission, visit the following State Government website:
Council Boundary Review – Merger Proposal of City of Ryde, Hunter's Hill and Lane Cove Councils
Extraordinary Council Meeting
Council held an Extraordinary Council Meeting on Monday 22 February 2016 to determine its response to the State Government's proposed merger of Lane Cove, Hunter's Hill and Ryde councils.
On Tuesday 2 February the State government held its Public Inquiry into the proposed merger of Lane Cove, Hunter's Hill and Ryde councils.
Residents, community groups, interest groups and councillors spoke over the two sessions held in the afternoon and evening.
The Mayor of Lane Cove, Clr Deborah Hutchens took the opportunity to address the State government's appointed delegate, Dr Robert Lang who is tasked with providing feedback on the merger to the NSW government.
"I believe that under a large Council the very essence of local government – namely, our close connection with, and responsiveness to our community will be lost. Or perhaps more accurately – it will be taken from us. I am proud to represent the people of Lane Cove and stand here today to affirm their right to an agile and responsive Council that helps to protect their local interests.
I urge the State government to consider the results of our high-performing, innovative Council and to listen to the feedback from our community".
Those members of the community who could not attend the Inquiry are reminded that the closing date for written submissions is 5pm on 28 February 2016.
For further details visit www.lanecove.nsw.gov.au/fitforthefuture or www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au.