City of Bayswater councillor warns of removing ward system amid local government reform

A local councillor is against removing the City's ward system.
A local councillor is against removing the City's ward system.

REMOVING the ward system at the City of Bayswater will 'take the local out of local government', says councillor Chris Cornish.

Cr Cornish made the comments at last week’s meeting in light of the State Government’s decision to incorporate the City of Bassendean into Bayswater along with parts of the cities of Stirling and Swan.

The Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) report, used to form the State Government changes, recommends a district ward structure as opposed to the current system of the local government divided into separate electorates.

Cr Cornish said that while he supported the boundary changes, he was concerned the abolition of the ward system would lead to politicisation of local government.

‘By having councillors run in a seat bigger than a Federal seat, the only logical grouping will be for politicians to group with a party,’ he said.

‘It is terrible for ratepayers.’

As a comparison, the City of Bayswater currently covers 34.74 sq km and has about 62,000 residents, divided into four wards.

This will increase to 58 sq km and 117,000 residents (2015) under the changes.

The Federal Seat of Perth, held by Alannah MacTiernan, covers 78 sq km and 95,226 (2013). ‘This no-ward system will take the local out of local government,’ Cr Cornish said.

The issue was raised with Local Government Minister Tony Simpson at a meeting with mayors and chief executives last week.

He said local government, through their local implementation committees, could make a submission about a proposed ward structured to the LGAB.

This can occur at any point after Governor’s Orders have been issued in the case of a boundary adjustment.

Bayswater Mayor Sylvan Albert said the new council could also revert to the ward system after it was elected in 2015.

‘The idea behind no wards is providing the new local governments with a blank canvas in terms of ward systems. This is a matter the City of Bayswater will want to look at further,’ he said.