With the planned forced merger between Blayney, Cabonne and Orange councils now nothing more than an entry in the municipal history books, Blayney mayor Scott Ferguson says that he’s relieved and very, very happy with the decision by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to walk away from council mergers in the bush.
“Finally, the uncertainty of the past 12 months is now over,” he said, “This will come as a huge relief to staff, councillors and most importantly the majority of the community who have been opposed to the merger since it was announced.”
Ever since the National Party was rolled in the Orange by-election in 2016, the future of the mergers has been under a cloud, but since Mike Baird’s resignation and the new order being established in Macquarie Street, Cr Ferguson said that the past few weeks have been a test for the council.
“The last three weeks have been worse than the past twelve months,” he said.
Despite the uncertainty the merger process has caused, Cr Ferguson can see the silver lining that that cloud has left behind.
“We needed, as a council, to be reborn and to get organised,” he said.
“The Fit for the Future process has given us a tremendous view of our financial and infrastructure position and we’ve never had a better understanding of our current financial position than we do now.”
Cr Ferguson said that there was now no chance that Blayney Council would be reverting back to how it was before the amalgamation process begun.
“Under the guidance of the general manager, Rebecca Ryan, we’re a much more sophisticated council now and we’re in a really good state for the new council that will be coming after the elections in September,” he said.
Now that the merger is behind them, Cr Ferguson says that the alliance between Cabonne, Blayney and Central Tablelands Water will be renewed and reinvigorated.
“It’s been a bit neglected over the past twelve months, but now we’re going to ramp up that alliance,” he said.
Outside of the alliance, the merger experience has also sharpened the council’s mind as to how it deals with its neighbouring councils, including Bathurst.
“We’ve come a really long way as a council and we can work better with, and continue our relationships with Orange and Bathurst,” he said.
Cabonne mayor Ian Gosper was ecstatic.
“Our communities indicated they are worried about the lack of rural or small town representation an amalgamation with a city council may deliver,” he said.