Great Lakes Lakes Council’s series of public meetings are continuing throughout the area this week, providing residents with information relating to the proposed merger of Great Lakes, Gloucester and Taree Councils.
Great Lakes General Manager Glenn Handford was on hand to answer questions and provide clarification of Great Lakes position on the merger to community members.
Great Lakes Council has resolved to support the proposal, subject to the development of a merger blueprint.
While this decision has been a turnaround, Council believes their successful strategic management experience will drive the merged councils towards a stronger region.
There are currently 45 merger proposals being considered across the state.
With Great Lakes and Port Stephens being the only two councils on the North Coast deemed “Fit for the Future,” Great Lakes Deputy Mayor Len Roberts said Council needed to look at the wider picture.
“There is a bigger agenda here,” Mr Roberts told News of the Area.
“The NSW Government is saying that Local Government is broken and Great Lakes and Port Stephens are part of the solution to fix the bigger problem.”
“We may not like it, but it’s the only proposal on the table.”
Great Lakes are engaging consultants Morrison Lowe to examine all aspects of the proposed merger objectively.
“We need a blue print that we can work from rather than having one thrust upon us,” Mr Roberts said.
“Morrison Lowe are independent to us and not emotionally locked in as we councillors and staff are.”
With many residents voicing concerns that identity and local voice could be lost through the merger, Mr Roberts said Great Lakes needed to drive the process.
“We need to replicate what Council and residents have done over the past eight years to get us fit for the future, but on a larger scale,” he said.
“If our councillors, staff and communities are not in there driving the blueprint of change, we are indeed at risk of losing our voice.”
Mr Handford encourages all residents to attend the public inquiries with Local Governments Delegate Dr Ian Tiley to express their views on the proposal.
By Daniel SAHYOUN