ARMIDALE Dumaresq councillors may have to don a “suit of armour” to distribute detailed descriptions of their four-way merger plan to hostile neighbouring councils.
The suggestion comes as Council admitted the amount of information about the amalgamation plan made public was not good enough.
Armidale Dumaresq councillors met for an extraordinary meeting on Monday night to endorse a 17-page community briefing of the merge plan for Uralla, Walcha and Guyra shires. General manager Glenn Wilcox said Council needed to make the information public quickly.
“We talked about delivery into other shires,” Mr Wilcox said.
“I’m not sure which of you need to put on a suit of armour to deliver them.
“We may run off a number of copies and drop them off at places of importance, like doctor surgeries or corner stores.”
Mayor Herman Beyersdorf said Council would ask if Uralla, Walcha and Guyra offices would keep copies of the briefing on-hand for residents to view, as well as bringing them to public inquiry meetings tomorrow and Friday. “We’re not going to shove them into people’s faces,” Cr Beyersdorf said.
“But we will have them there.”
A Council report said the extra material was necessary after a financial analysis ordered and financed by delegate Greg Wright, conducted by company KPMG, was published online.
“This information and the four public hearings do not provide sufficient information for the community to consider,” the report said.
“Council proposes to provide some additional information from public sources and make this information available to all residents and ratepayers of the four local government areas.”
The report follows criticism aimed at Armidale Dumaresq Council for the online financial analysis from Uralla Mayor Michael Pearce at the shire’s March meeting.
“Our community in this proposal is being expected to form an opinion as to the merits or otherwise of these factors with access to absolutely zero information,” Cr Pearce said.
Despite the criticism, councillors wanted to make a point of highlighting the potential benefits for the region a four-way merge may provide.
“One of the things we have got that the others haven’t got is water,” councillor Andrew Murat said.
“Uralla Council are just about to put on water restrictions, and it wasn’t even a bad summer.”
Cr Murat said combining resources in a merge would make water problems easier to deal with.
Councillor Jim Maher agreed, and pointed to an idea of having monthly committee meetings in Walcha, Uralla and Guyra to ensure greater representation for smaller community centres.
“You can open them up with a Have Your Say section,” Cr Maher said.
“It’s not them and us.”
Councillor Margaret O’Connor was careful not to offend neighbouring councils, suggesting changing a reference to Armidale as a “main urban centre” to the “largest urban centre”.
Councillors unanimously voted to endorse the community briefing, which is now available online.
But he clock is ticking for councillors to spread the information, with public inquiry meetings on the proposal planned for tomorrow and Friday.
Further adding to the pressure is the looming April 15 deadline for community comments to be submitted to Local Government Minister Paul Toole.
Residents can read the briefing at Council’s website www.armidale.nsw.gov.au/.
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