Ten months after the State Government stated its intention to merge Oberon Council and Bathurst Regional Council we can officially start planning the future of the Bathurst Regional Council area after yesterday’s announcement that amalgamations will not go ahead.
Council has always taken a position of working with the NSW Government and other Councils on the issue of local government reform and yesterday’s announcement by Premier Berejiklan would be accepted by Council.
The rationale for merging any local Council area was to enhance opportunities and deliver quality services, amenity and infrastructure, create financial efficiencies and provide scale and capacity across the entire local government area. This approach will not change, irrespective of the State Governments final decision on Council mergers.
Bathurst Regional Council will now be able to concentrate on developing the cultural vision and the decision for Councils to stand alone is timely for the preparation of the 2017/2018 Annual Operating Plan.
The State Governments decision now provides all Councils with some clarity and the opportunity to move forward. The results from the Fit for the Future analysis provides Local Government neighbours with the chance to enter into discussions for future financial efficiency and the opportunity to resource share if they are open to the idea.
Although yesterday’s announcement did highlight some differences between Council areas much can be said about distinct commonalities and the opportunity to collaborate. Improving visitation to regional areas, collaborating on developing transport links and improving health services should all be a top priority for Regional Councils.
Council will continue to look forward to ensuring we capitalise on opportunities for continued expansion and growth for the residents and ratepayers of Bathurst Regional Council.
We look forward to continuing to work with the State Government on a range of issues, including the structure of local government, and will continue to work for the community during this phase.
Cr Gary Rush