Confirmed: Kiama to remain independent

The Minister for Local Government has phoned Mayor Brian Petschler to confirm Kiama is not to be merged with Shoalhaven City Council.

The decision has been met with jubilation in Kiama, where last weekend’s poll showed that 95% of residents were against the merger.

Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said, “The NSW Government has finally listened to our community.

“It has listened to the community’s overwhelming support—to its long and robust campaign—for Kiama Council to remain independent.

“We had more than 130 groups and individuals make presentations to the government-appointed Delegate opposing the merger.

“Over 8000 people signed petitions that were officially handed to NSW Parliament, while close to an incredible 1500 members of our community made written submissions.

“People turned up in huge numbers to public meetings and events.

“The NSW Government’s decision is commendable.

“The proposed merger was not justified and had it have gone ahead both councils would have been significantly worse off.

“Kiama Council is financially sound and looks forward to continuing a high level of service to the community.”

Keep Kiama Council Local Committee chairman Rob McKinnon today hailed the NSW Government’s decision to abandon plans to forcibly merge Kiama Municipality with Shoalhaven City Council as a victory for the community and for common sense.

Mr McKinnon said it showed that the Government had taken notice of the overwhelming community support for Kiama Council continuing to stand alone, as it has done for the past 157 years.

Mr McKinnon also thanked Member for Kiama Gareth Ward for his behind the scenes lobbying against the amalgamation proposal, which he described as crucial to the final decision.

“This has been a three-way partnership against amalgamation involving the council, the community and our local MP Gareth Ward. We worked together for this result and that is why it was ultimately successful,” Mr McKinnon said.

“From the moment the Government announced the proposal just before Christmas, the community rose up and said that merging Kiama and Shoalhaven made no sense. Here in Kiama we appreciate our council and the high level of services it provides and we wanted to keep it that way.”

Mr McKinnon also thanked the Keep Kiama Local Committee for its work in harnessing community opposition to the amalgamation proposal.

Celebrations are to continue at the Kiama Bowling Club tonight.

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