Byron to maintain identity according to Don Page
BYRON Shire Council would maintain its local identity under a new look multi-purpose county council model with Lismore as the regional centre, the Minister for Local Government Don Page said this week.
The county council model was one of many reform ideas floated in the interim report released last week by the Independent Local Government Review Panel chaired by Professor Graham Sansom.
Mr Page, who is also the Ballina State MP, said such an idea if adopted would see Byron resource share, bulk buy and form collaborative agreements with other North Coast member councils including Lismore, Tweed, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Ballina to achieve economies of scale.
But he said local democracy would be maintained including regular meetings at council's Mullum headquarters.
Mr Page said once formed, member councils would not be able to walk away from their county council, but he has again reiterated that their would be no forced amalgamations.
The panel will be staging a workshop in Lismore from June 11-13 to discuss the proposals put forward in the interim report.
The final report is due in September.
Meanwhile, a NSW Treasury Corporation report released last week assessed the financial health of all 152 local governments in NSW and concluded that many councils were financially unviable long term, including Byron Shire, and the numbers should be cut to less than 100.
North Coast council's like Byron, were said to be facing unique challenges like:
- being highly prone to floods and storms which have been prevalent in recent years
- peak holiday crowds placing pressure on facilities; ageing populations
- and a high demand for a variety of services due to the age mix of the local and tourist populations.
"The outlook for Byron was negative so things are going to get worse if nothings happens," Mr Page said.
The full Treasury Corporation report is available on the Division of Local Government's website at www.dlg.nsw.gov.au/