Councils mull over mergers

The City of Swan is seeking a merger with the Town of Bassendean.
The City of Swan is seeking a merger with the Town of Bassendean.

The City of Swan is working with the Town of Bassendean on a submission for the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) proposing that the two authorities join in voluntary amalgamation in lieu of any State Government proposal.

The State government has previously suggested that Bassendean amalgamate with Bayswater and Belmont. However, Bassendean residents are not happy with this proposal.

Swan Mayor Charlie Zannino said he had spoken with neighbouring councils about opportunities to merge and was pleased discussions with Bassendean were positive.

‘Swan proposed nine local government authorities (LGAs) across Perth, with amalgamations based on the key principles of governance, services and resources,’ Cr Zannino said. ‘This is an exciting development in what has been a long process.’

Mundaring Shire chief executive Jonathan Throssell described the development as ‘surprising’.

Mr Throssell said a bulletin from the Department of Local Government stated: ‘The Minister (for Local Government) is aware that a number of councils are considering putting proposals to the LGAB before the government’s preferred model for metropolitan local government reform is announced.

‘This action may be premature as State Government funding for mergers may not be made available for proposals which are not in line with the government’s model.’

Mr Throssell said if the City of Swan’s proposal did not suit the State Government’s preference, ratepayers would have to foot the bill for the amalgamation.

Bassendean Mayor John Gangell said his council was keen for a link with the City of Swan because, ‘if we are not able to stay as we are, we want some control over our own destiny’.

‘Our historical links are much stronger with Swan than Bayswater,’ he said.

‘Geographically, we were all co-located as part of the West Guildford Road Board and we share a long border with City of Swan.’

The Town of Bassendean council is due to vote on the issue on June 25.

Bassendean sought the views of its residents to see which option they preferred. Overwhelmingly, they wanted a merger with the City of Swan, Cr Gangell said.

It is believed councils would not have a choice once the the Government-proposed amalgamations start.

Cr Gangell said he met Local Government Minister Tony Simpson on Tuesday with Mr Zannino.

‘We put our position and have been told that when the government forms its response to the Robson Report, there will be no further negotiation,’ Cr Gangell said.

‘We can only hope he heard our plea.’

Mr Throssell said his council’s position remained unchanged.

‘We have been and will continue to be open to considering reform, where the benefits to our community can be demonstrated,’ he said.

‘The City of Swan report provides no evidence to demonstrate what investigation has been done to show amalgamation is warranted and thus how our community would benefit from an amalgamation with the City of Swan and Town of Bassendean.’