The New England Group of Council's joint organisation will give local councils a stronger voice with the NSW Government

ARMIDALE could join a super-group of councils next year.

The NSW Government has introduced new laws that would allow the voluntarily creation of the New England Group of Councils.

The joint organisation is not a merger.

But, councils in cahoots are in a better position to lobby the state government for investment opportunities.

Armidale Regional Council CEO Peter Dennis said neighbouring councils had worked together successfully informally for a while.

“Whether it’s tourism or attracting economic development, rail trails or major roads that cut through three or four government areas – it’s about how we can work together strategically,” Mr Dennis said.

“The key benefits are strategic planning and advocacy from a more regional perspective.”

The super-group would consist of Armidale Regional, Glen Innes Severn, Gwydir Shire, Inverell Shire, Moree Plains Shire, Tenterfield Shire and possibly Uralla Shire Council.

The legislation is expected to go through parliament this week, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said.

“Local governments have been waiting for this for some time,” Mr Marshall said.

“The benefits are huge and I can say that because of my experience as mayor of Gunnedah – I was chair of the Namoi Joint Organisation.

“Not just on the political side, but speaking as one voice on issues that go across council boundaries in a region.”

The real benefits are economic, Mr Marshall said.

“There’s huge opportunity to save millions of dollars each year in working together on joint tendering procurement and contract arrangements,” he said.

Seed funding of $3.3 million will be provided to councils that choose to become a member of a JO.

Each council would receive a one-off payment of $300,000 to cover costs associated with joining the group. 

Without commitment from the state government to fund ongoing operational costs, member councils will need to make annual contributions.

Tamworth, Walcha and Uralla Councils joined the Namoi Councils Joint Organisation in a 2014 pilot program. 

The New England Group of Councils will meet on Friday to discuss a JO.

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