Forbes Shire Council held a community meeting at the Council Chambers on Monday night with over 150 community members attending. “I will take up the fight in Macquarie Street for Forbes Shire Council to stand alone, if that is what the ratepayers want and it is the wish of the Council,” said Member for Orange Andrew Gee. “I will do this in the strongest terms.”
There was an overwhelming show of support for Forbes Council to stand alone, and this was reinforced by the Micromex Research Survey conducted with 304 residents. 72% of those surveyed said they supported Forbes Council standing alone, compared to 28% saying they wanted to merge. Mayor Phyllis Miller gave an overview of where the Fit for the Future Plan was at, outlining reasons why Forbes was declared ‘unfit’.
This revolved around the population of the Forbes Shire as it applied to scale and capacity. Mayor Miller commented that the figures, taken from 2013, were incorrect and that this matter of population has been an ongoing battle and discussion with the Department of Planning. Forbes Shire Council has discussed the possibility of merging with surrounding Councils, including Cabonne, Weddin, Lachlan, Parkes and Cowra, but none of these Councils want to merge with Forbes.
The NSW Government can force Councils to amalgamate under the Local Government Act, however Council has until 18 November to respond. Andrew Gee said that a final decision will hopefully be made before Christmas, after
the NSW Government responds to IPART. “There is no question it will be a tough fight,” said Mr Gee. “Politics is about taking up the difficult causes. It’s certainly not about running up the white flag and blindly accepting a report written by Sydney bureaucrats against the wishes of the community.”
Mayor Miller reiterated that the Councillors will always strive to do what is best for the ratepayers who have elected them to this Council. As one attendee commented, “if it’s not broken, why fix it?”