A former Lockhart Shire mayor has weighed in on Lockhart’s push to remain a stand-alone rural council.
Former mayor Colin Wiese feels as though history is repeating itself in forcing an economically viable and stable council to merge with “unfit” neighbours. Mr Wiese was mayor for four-and-a-half-years from 1999 to 2004, during that time Lockhart Shire was faced with proposed mergers which would have been “a terrible thing for Lockhart”.
Now faced with a proposed merger with Urana and Corowa, nothing has changed since 2003.
“Rural towns are battling enough now without making it harder for them,” he said.
While Mr Wiese is sceptical about the amount saved by merging councils, he believes the financial side should not outweigh the social impact a merger would have on the local community.
“In a smaller community people have a greater identity and this creates more pride in their town and region,” he said.
“If you look broadly across society people lack identify and aren’t as happy.”
The involvement around Lockhart shire reinforces this concept.
“We have three football clubs with a population of 3000 people, some communities struggle to have one club,” Mr Wiese said.
The Lockhart Shire No Merger Action Group chairperson, Justine Isherwood said the community need to continue fighting.
“It’s all about volume the more people who stand up and be proactive not reactive the more chance we have of getting the minister to look at us,” she said.
The action group are encouraging residents to submit a response to the proposed merger with Corowa and Urana.
“We are encouraging people to write a letter or email saying why we need to stay independent,” Ms Isherwood said.
The group highlighted the supposed saving the merger is supposed to provide at the public enquiry recently.
“Saving on a per capita basis it is even worse for Lockhart Shire residents as it equals only $68,741 per year or $22 per resident (one small pizza),” group member Andrew Bouffler said.
Go to www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au to make a submission or post letters to Council Boundary Review, GPO Box 5341, Sydney NSW 2001 before Sunday February 28 at 5pm.