Former Guyra Shire Council residents against forced merger see hope

“We want democracy back, we want Guyra back,” protester Beth White said at our town’s second rally this year.

But there was something different about the protest last Friday. It marked the one-year anniversary since the former Shire’s forced amalgamation with Armidale Dumaresq Council.

It was also the one-year anniversary of the government’s implementation of its merger policy, which saw 44 other councils sacked and instantly replaced with 19 new super councils.

An angry pack of local residents donned orange and rallied in the CBD –marching from the NAB car park to the front of the former Shire’s Chambers.

Long-standing resident Ted Mulligan, who also holds the keys to town, joined the crowd of protesters. 

“Where are we going?” ANTY Group spokesman Gordon Youman said.

“There’s been no evidence of these amalgamations working.

“The only evidence that exists is evidence that it doesn’t.”

The rally coincided with a win further south in the Woollhara Council area in the Sydney.

On Friday the Council, which had been set to merge with neighbouring councils Waverley and Randwick, was granted to have its fight against the proposal heard before the High Court later this year.

Gordon Youman.

Gordon Youman.

Woollahra Council mayor Toni Zeltzer said the day marked “a step in the right direction towards preserving local democracy”.

Local government minister Gabrielle Upton, who was approached by the Guyra ANTY Group earlier this year, said she accepted the High Court’s decision to grant the council the right to appeal.

The ANTY group were further encouraged after a ruling by the NSW Supreme Court in March found the process used ahead of the proposed merger between Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby failed to consider financial implications. 

There are currently six councils across the state fighting mergers through the courts.