Boundary changes favoured by Hills mayor

LINES were drawn in the sand during a forum at the Galston Club last Wednesday to discuss The Hills Council’s proposed boundary changes.

The Dural and Round Corner Chamber of Commerce organised the forum because the chamber crosses into both councils, its president, Peter Dawson, said.

He flipped a coin to choose first speaker, The Hills mayor Michelle Byrne.

“The boundaries we are proposing are logical and sensible . . . [and] would improve asset planning and service delivery,” she said of their plan, which unites suburbs at present split between two or three councils — among them Hornsby, Hawkesbury and Parramatta — and absorbs others altogether.

The Hills Council proposed its boundaries as part of a submission to the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s 20 Essential Steps discussion paper which recommended fewer NSW councils.

“We’d be thinking Hornsby would merge with Ku-ring-gai,” Cr Byrne said, with reference to how Hornsby would make up for suburbs it lost.

Cr Russell said “the better plan” was for The Hills, Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai councils to merge and pool resources.

“You’d have a saving of $70 million,” he said.

“It is a huge responsibility having such a large water system . . . we spend on that alone $3.6 million a year just monitoring the water.”

Some disagreed with The Hills Council’s interpretation of “communities of interest”.

This meant that where people go to shop, bank, school, church, play sport and socialise is the council area they identify with, and dictated several boundary suggestions.

Others criticised Mr Russell for not having an alternative boundary map for them to consider.

A visitor suggested ridge instead of creek boundaries.

Cr Russell agreed with Cr Byrne that local government was in need of reform and that some council boundaries were illogical.

“It’s silly to have Glenorie divided in half . . . [and] I do think it’s absurd Old Northern Road is the boundary; but then it’s worked quite well for 106 years,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Hornsby Council also voted to investigate the possibility of a “strategic alliance” with The Hills and Warringah councils which, Cr Russell said, “would mean greater savings for the residents of Hornsby Shire through increased buying power”.

■ What do you think of The Hills Council’s plan?

■ Read previous articles on the boundary plan:

– The Hills Council push to absorb neighbouring suburbs

– “Unjustified” Hills land grab has neighbours wondering

– Read more on what The Hills Council said in June, when it first proposed the changes