Council mergers: devil is in the detail

Gosnells Mayor Dave Griffiths believes a merger with the City of Canning will benefit residents. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d405227
Gosnells Mayor Dave Griffiths believes a merger with the City of Canning will benefit residents. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d405227

The State Government announced the amalgamations last Tuesday as part of metropolitan-wide plan to cut local councils from 30 to 14 by July 1, 2015.

Under the proposal, Canning will lose sections of its area to three neighbouring councils ” Victoria Park, Belmont and Melville ” and many major facilities and planning projects will be outside the new boundaries.

Canning administrators will have to deal with four councils, including merger partner Gosnells, to broker amalgamation deals.

Canning commissioner Linton Reynolds said he was determined to get the best outcomes for residents and staff.

‘The City provided an aged care service for senior residents and all of the facilities (are) outside the new boundaries,’ he said.

‘We have two libraries that will also be outside. We have to first find out whether the new councils are going to continue to run the libraries and then staff will have to decide whether they want to transfer or stay with Canning.

‘It is going to take a lot of intense negotiations but I, and chief executive Lyn Russell, will make it a priority to bring some surety for staff and residents.’

Mr Reynolds said initial merger talks with Gosnells had already begun and the two councils had a lot in common, which would help the integration process.

‘There is a strong community of interest ” especially given that many of the Gosnells suburbs are closer to Cannington than Gosnells, and they generally shop and recreate in the Canning area,’ he said. ‘Both councils have very skilled and varied workforces.

‘Both areas have a high number of recently arrived migrants and the combined entity should provide a higher level of service than currently.

‘Obviously, the sheer size of the organisation will allow specialisation in many areas that can then flow on to improved service delivery. Against this, is the inevitable impact, if not proactively handled, on communication, as the elected members and senior management are less involved with their community.’

Gosnells Mayor Dave Griffiths said the merger would bring vibrant activity centres into a dormitory suburb.

Mr Griffiths said the Canning Vale and Cannington industrial and commercial areas would benefit Gosnells.

‘It’s nice to be able to both live and work in your area,’ he said.