BY OUR CIVIC ROUNDSMAN
An opinion poll asking Hunters Hill residents and ratepayers if they want their local democracy to be abolished in a forced merger will be put at the September 9 Local Government election.
Hunters Hill councillors voted unanimously on Monday night to put the question as a YES or NO vote which will ask: ”Do you support the amalgamation of Hunters Hill Council with the City of Ryde Council and Lane Cove Council as proposed by the New South Wales Government ?”
At stake is the survival of the 156 year old municipality, its heritage protection laws and current services as well as representation by councillors who live in the local area.
The council heard that the outcome of Hunters Hill’s case against the process used to justify a forced merger, currently being heard in the Court of Appeal, could impact on a decision to hold a poll.
Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ryde Councils were found by the State Government to be “unfit for the future” and pro-merger Premier Gladys Berejiklian has the option to abolish the three councils prior to the poll.
Councillor Dr Meredith Sheil told the council meeting the opinion poll goes right to the heart of local democracy and Deputy Mayor Clr Mark Bennett replied to detractors who have been critical of the council spending ratepayer’s money fighting the government in court.
“Had we not spent the money and pursued this we wouldn’t be able to debate this question tonight and yes, we do have the money,” he said.