Tamworth resident and councillor Mark Rodda shares his delight that the Walcha/Tamworth coucil merger will not be going ahead.

Like many people around our region last week, I was delighted to learn that Walcha Shire Council (WSC) ratepayers kept their independence and their local representative voices and would not be forcibly amalgamated with neighbour Tamworth Regional Council (TRC).

Personally, I believe the decision had plenty to do with very loud Walcha voices, luck and good

timing that a federal election is imminent and the Division of New England is being robustly contested by eight candidates (so far).

I was even more pleased, particularly for my fellow TRC ratepayers, that the forced amalgamation did not proceed when I read the NRMA report called Funding Local Roads referred to in a Leader article on Tuesday, May 17.

This report has suggested that Walcha shire has a road infrastructure backlog in the vicinity of a massive $16,407,000.

Had the amalgamation occ- urred, this figure would not even have been covered by the incentives promised by the NSW government to encourage a voluntary merger, nor would the incentives have fixed Walcha shire’s timber bridge network and so the recommended forced amalgamation between TRC and WSC would have been a massive financial impost for TRC ratepayers, and ultimately, one of the biggest cost-shifting exercises possibly ever carried out by a state government on the ratepayers of a local government area in recent history.

And so, the good fortune of Walcha shire residents to have avoided a forced amalgamation during this federal election campaign extends emphatically and indeed, fiscally, to TRC ratepayers, who will now not be burdenedwith such an unacceptably large road and bridge infrastructure backlog into the future.

Something I am quite grateful for.

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