Merger process snubbed

‘We really are alone in the western suburbs, because we’ve always had the view we should be bigger,’ Cambridge Mayor Simon Withers said, before submission deadline last Friday .

He said his council wanted last week’s submission to be the most relevant after the State Government ‘bungled’ reform because councils ‘obsessed’ with ratepayers voting on changes had failed to focus on maintaining councils of fewer than 10,000 residents.

Board chairman Mel Congerton said he would read all submissions before commenting on Peppermint Grove, Nedlands, Subiaco, Cottesloe and Mosman Park councils not sending replies after they rejected the proposed G7 super-council.

Mr Congerton refuted recent claims by Mr Withers that board members could be seen as ‘stooges’ if their submission analysis adhered to the Government’s plan for 14 new councils across Perth, which generated 17 replies and one joint reply from 19 councils.

‘Mayors and CEOs need to understand the role of the board,’ he said.

Analysis would use criteria including communities of interest, physical features, demographics, history and transport of areas, to maintain the board’s independence and the investigation would also comprise ‘any other factors we consider relevant’ after meetings with affected councils in two weeks.

Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said it would have been ‘irresponsible’ to make a submission before all the facts about mergers were known.

He said residents had not lost the right to comment.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson was asked if the Government would send in its own G7 submission, what the the outcome would be if the board rejected a G7, and what would happen if the five western suburbs councils did not reply. His spokeswoman said it was too premature to comment.

The board is expected to make recommendations to Mr Simpson mid-2014.