Council merger waiting game: Shellharbour mayor calls for action

Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba says the NSW Government must make a call on council mergers before her council spends any more money on legal costs.

The council’s final hearing over the planned amalgamation with Wollongong council is scheduled for Thursday and Friday in the NSW Court of Appeal .

Cr Salbia “implored” Premier Gladys Berejiklian to drop the merger and save Shellharbour council money.

“We understand that the NSW Cabinet is listening to the community and are ready to withdraw merger proposals for those Councils before the courts,” she said.

“I implore them to move quickly and save any more money being spent to fight these mergers and allow us to return to the business of supporting our community and enhancing our city.”

Contending the merger process has so far cost Council $225,000 for the matter to be heard in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the controversial issue, and an announcement is expected to follow after that.

Fairfax Media has previously reported the government was considering a backflip on its forced merger policy for councils (like Wollongong and Shellharbour) which have not yet been merged.

There was also some speculation plebiscites may be used to decide whether mergers should go ahead, and talk that public votes could also help to de-merge already amalgamated areas.

Cr Saliba has in the past said she was “hopeful” the change of premier would prompt a change of mind for the government, and Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he thought the remaining Illawarra council merger would be dropped.