Merger tensions boiling along

WALCHA locals will have their voices heard in Armidale as public inquiries for the controversial four-waymerger proposal get under way this week, with the Walcha mayor saying it’s unfair to expect the town to turn up once again.
Nanjing Night Net

Mayor Janelle Archdale said she isn’t anticipating the huge numbers for this edition of the Boundaries Commission’s hearing in Walcha.

“The locals are still very passionate but I don’t think there is a feeling of having to be there,” Cr Archdale said.

The Walcha community turned out in force at the public inquiryinto the merger proposal with Tamworth Regional Council, with more than 60 people speaking against the move and over 650 people inattendance.

The recent rally at the Walcha Show saw more than 1000 locals pack into the ring to protest the merger and were supported by state MP Kevin Anderson and federal member Barnaby Joyce.

“There is a feeling of frustration and anger.

“Personally, I think it’s unfair to expect the community to turn up once again,” Cr Archdale said.

The mayor suggested tomorrow’s hearing could be a “show of protest” to the whole process.

“Will there be 600 people turn up again? I don’t think so,” she said.

Walcha man George Spring, who has coordinated a social media campaign to Save Walcha Council, said a “core group of passionate locals” from Uralla, Guyra and Walcha would attend and speak at the hearing in Armidale on Friday.

“We want the Armidale mayor and councillors to see that this was a misguided venture,” Mr Spring said.

Mr Spring was scathing of Armidale Dumaresq Council’s lack of consultation with its neighbours on the proposal.

“We consider this a hostile takeover,” Mr Spring said.

He said Armidale Dumaresq Council was “renowned as a poorly run council” and said the mayor Herman Beyersdorf was “out of touch with reality” regarding his comments on the region being over-represented in local government.

Mr Spring said the lack of evidence showing the benefits of a merger had led to the huge opposition to theproposals.

“If there was evidence that mergers could benefit the community, I believe there would be some acceptance,” he said.

At the conclusion of the February inquiry in Walcha, Boundaries Commission delegate Amanda Chadwick said her report into the Tamworth Regional and Walcha Shire councils merger would be submitted to the minister by March 31.

Cr Archdale said the report was yet to surface and anticipated it wouldn’t become public until the second round of inquiries was completed.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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