Survey suggests majority favour a de-merger

More than 80 per cent of responses to the recent Coast Community Newspapers poll were in favour of reverting to separate Gosford and Wyong councils.

Almost 300 responses were received, with 81.6 per cent in favour of de-merging and 18.4 per cent believing we should remain a united Central Coast Council.

Comments on the responses were many and varied, with some readers referring to the 2016 merger of the two former councils as a “joke” and a “nightmare”.

“It’s been a bungled, expensive and messy merger bought on by poor analysis and a coercion of councillors at the time by the State Government,” one response said.

“The State Government could come in and fund the true costs of the merger.

“This would be much better than breaking up the Council again into two equally dysfunctional councils in Gosford and Wyong.”

Many felt that the geographical area of the region, combined with an expanding population and complex environments, was too great to be managed by one council.

Others were incensed that residents had not been consulted prior to the merge.

“The residents were not invited to vote on the merger, and it has proven to be something of a financial burden and failure and the decision to do so was not in the interests of ratepayers,” one reader said.

One respondent, a former council employee, was firmly on the side of de-amalgamation.

“After working for Council for eight years before and after the amalgamation I definitely agree with a demerger,” the reader said.

“I’ve seen first-hand how messed up the whole thing has been from the start (and still is).

“I’ve seen unqualified staff be appointed to areas of management due to bias towards Wyong.

“Last count of employees moved into management positions before I left was 53 Wyong to 23 Gosford; just the tip of the iceberg of the issues within CCC.”

There were several calls for a referendum on the issue.

One reader said the forced amalgamation was “never justifiable”.

“The Liberals imposed an ideological solution that has no merit,” the reader said.

“Local government is there to serve the community.

“It is not a business and its councillors are not board members.

“We need to get back to fit for purpose local government and yes that means de amalgamation and enough councillors to actually represent the community.

“Central Coast Council is too big, impersonal and all about development at the expense of community.”

Those opposed to a de-merger were largely concerned with the cost of such a move.

“Given the cost to merge and modernise systems and services, de-merging would be an enormous waste of time and money,” one response said.

“The Council is reaching a point where the process of amalgamation is nearing completion and the focus has once again shifted to delivering services to the community.

“Let’s just get in with building a strong, sustainable and resilient Central Coast and delivering upon the Community Strategic Plan.

“Please no more time wasting!”

One reader said it was “way too far down the track” to consider de-amalgamation.

“It would cost a small fortune to demerge and so much disruption for another five years,” the reader said.

“The State Government should have been honest and said it would take 10 years and cost $10M a year to cover the costs involved.”

One respondent said another reorganisation within a generation would be an “irresponsible waste of money” and another said while amalgamation may have been “ill-conceived and poorly executed”, Council’s current financial crisis can’t simply be undone by de-amalgamating.

“This would only compound the blow-out in costs,” the reader said.

“Despite the current situation, and with the right leadership, a great opportunity now exists for Central Coast Council to leverage its size to deliver real scale economies and promote new investment in the region.

But other readers felt costs of any de-amalgamation should be borne by the State Government.

“The State Government is responsible for the merger and so the State Government should be responsible for the de-merger,” one reader said.

“Also, the State Government should bail the Council out of its debt.”

There were several calls for some northern suburbs, including Gwandalan, Summerland Point and Wyee, to join Lake Macquarie Council.

Terry Collins