More merger court battles go down

The Land and Environment Court this week ruled in favour of the state government, dismissing action taken by councils regarding the merging of five NSW local government areas.

Gundagai is one of a further three cases that remain subject to the decisions of the court.

The court dismissed action regarding proposals involving Hornsby Shire and Ku-ring-gai Councils, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ryde Councils, and Shellharbour and Wollongong Councils.

Minister for Local Government Paul Toole welcomed the court’s decisions, handed down on Tuesday.

“The court noted that the complaints common to the five were without foundation,” Mr Toole said.

Councils that launched legal action with respect to these three proposals have until September 27 to consider an appeal.

Strathfield Council, fighting to stave off a merger with Mosman, was granted a stay of execution when the court found that the Delegate did not adequately consider one and two of 11 factors outlined by the Local Government Act, leaving the proposed mergers remaining in the hands of the Delegates.

“The Government will closely examine the findings in relation to these Delegates’ reports,” Mr Toole said.

Bayside Council was proclaimed on September 9 following the conclusion of legal action brought by the former Botany Bay Council, while Woollahra Municipal Council is currently fighting the loss of their court challenge in the NSW Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, Mr Toole says the 20 new councils in NSW are “already getting on with the job of delivering improved services and better infrastructure to their ratepayers.”