Spending EVEN MORE of ratepayers money on legal action fighting amalgamation?
Gladesville Community Group is calling on Hunters Hill Council not to use any more of ratepayers’ money by continuing with further legal action against the State Government’s planned amalgamation of Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ryde local government areas.
This follows the decision in the Land and Environment Court, announced on Tuesday 20 September, which rejected Hunters Hill Council’s objections. The Group’s spokesperson, Russell Young, said: “We understand that Hunters Hill Council has already spent over $235,000 of our money on legal action although it has not revealed an exact figure.
“Both Botany Bay and Woollahra Councils’ failed legal action each attracted a cost award for them to pay the legal costs of the NSW Department of Local Government so the total current cost exposure from ratepayers’ funds in Hunters Hill is probably already close to half a million dollars – before any appeal.
“It should be noted that when the legal action was first approved by Hunters Hill Council with an estimated cost of $150,000+, the report to Council (item 8.4 of meeting 4400 on 26 April 2016) disclosed that the legal action was more likely to fail than it was to succeed.
“We were disappointed that Hunters Hill Council took such a gamble by responding to the State Government with an outright refusal to consider any kind of amalgamation.
“Being the smallest local government authority in NSW, it was always going to be a big and costly risk to expect the State Government to undertake a process of local council reform and leave this micro-council untouched.
“That half a million dollars could have gone a long way to repairing roads, footpaths, drains, gutters, and other infrastructure assets in the works backlog; or funding improved services; or supporting groups that promote local interests and our sense of community.”
“With Councillors Miles and Bird dissenting, the Council delegated authority to Mayor Richard Quinn and the General Manager to lodge notice of intention to appeal, to spend more of our money if the judgement handed down on 20 September was unsuccessful.
“Instead of Hunters Hill Council embarking on yet more unwelcome expenditure on continuing legal action, we favour a more productive conversation with the community about how all suburbs in the legacy Hunters Hill Local Government Area can enjoy the benefits that will come from being part of a better-resourced council, without losing local identity”