Local government changes debated at meeting

REPRESENTATIVES of more than 14 councils met at Parramatta to discuss local government changes at Riverside's Rafferties Theatre yesterday.

Local Government NSW chief Keith Rhoades met about 80 attendees from councils across western Sydney, including Parramatta, Holroyd, Blacktown, Auburn, Strathfield and Fairfield, to work through recommendations from the local government review panel's final report, to help form LGNSW's government submission.

"We, as a sector of government, are very keen to see good reform in local government," Mr Rhoades said. "This is what we've been seeking for 20 years. We're now in a position to be in the debate."

Mr Rhoades said 32 of the panel's 65 recommendations were sitting "fairly comfortably" with NSW councils but others were causing division or concern, like a suggestion mayors be directly elected by voters, not fellow councillors, once a region's population passed 40,000. "We don't support that — nor do the councils to date," he said.

He said if Parramatta residents wanted their lord mayor elected by his or her fellow councillors it should remain the community's decision rather than having popular election mandated by the state government.

A council spokesman said the lord mayor, John Chedid, and the council's chief executive raised a range of concerns at the forum, which was intended as a broad discussion on local government review.

The spokesman said the council does not have a formal position on the election of mayors but if there is community support for a change the council could consider a referendum.

Parramatta council stated it does not support the popular election of the lord mayor.

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