Mayors rejected merger push as council future sits on a knife-edge

DEFIANT: Lockhart mayor Peter Yates.

DEFIANT: Lockhart mayor Peter Yates.

THE Lockhart community has landed a critical blow in its fight to remain as a standalone council area following a landmark meeting on Friday.

At a meeting in Albury, the mayors of Lockhart, Urana and Corowa agreed to jointly reject a proposal by the Boundaries Commission to merge the three shires.

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire and Albury MP Greg Aplin have both backed the councils’ standalone position.

It coincides with a public meeting in Lockhart on Monday night, where ratepayers were expected to support the no-merger push.

Lockhart mayor Peter Yates said it “beggared belief” the largely farming district could be partnered with a river community like Corowa.

“Headquarters will no doubt be based in the larger centre (of Corowa) and that will mean less representation for us,” Cr Yates said.

“Corowa is an hour-and-a-half from The Rock and Yerong Creek and an hour-and-a-quarter from Lockhart.

“It just doesn’t make sense.”

Lockhart was expected to be one of the few Riverina councils to be given standalone status after the Independent Local Government Review Panel supported its decision to remain independent.

The Boundaries Commission later revoked the decision and proposed the three-way merger.

Cr Yates claimed the merger would likely see senior council staff move out of the district, impacting on the local economy.

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