Adelaide Plains ratepayer group moves to split area in two in bid to avoid debt burden – Splitting Headache

A PETITION has been created to dissolve the Adelaide Plains Council, with the northern areas proposed to join Wakefield Regional Council and southern forming part of the neighbouring Playford Council.

The Adelaide Plains Ratepayers and Residents Association (APRRA) is behind the move, which was triggered in response to a motion lodged by councillor, Margherita Panella, seeking to shift council’s administration to Two Wells.

Following an APRRA meeting last Tuesday night, a petition to ‘split’ the wards of Adelaide Plains Council was successfully passed.

Acting APRRA president, Mel Lawrence, who took over the role after the resignation of Neil Salter, said more than the required 20 signatures were received at the meeting to proceed with the move, with about 100 received at time of print.

Mr Lawrence said the petition, open to all residents in the Adelaide Plains Council (APC) area, proposes the northern ward (Mallala/Dublin) moves to Wakefield Regional Council, and the southern ward (Two Wells/Lewiston) moves to Playford.

“The reason is because Cr Panella is pushing to move the council building to a new site in Two Wells, at a cost of $10-15 million – we would be crippled by debt if that happened,” Mr Lawrence.

“I spent the last four years on council on an audit committee, so I know the financial situation very, very well.”

“We don’t need to build new chambers, and we would save ratepayers millions of dollars.”

Acting APC mayor, Marcus Strudwicke, said a motion regarding office location was placed on the agenda at last Tuesday’s council meeting by an elected member, but was withdrawn.

He said council is not currently considering any proposal to change its principal office, or construct new facilities.

In regards to APRRA’s petition for boundary realignment, Mr Strudwicke said the subject of boundary changes ‘has not been raised on council’s agenda.’

“A petition to the council is not part of the current boundary adjustment process, however all petitions are ‘received and noted’ in the normal course of a council meeting agenda,” he said.

“Resident initiated proposals for boundary changes are handled directly by the Commission, and require the support of 10 per cent of eligible electors.

“Council does not play a role in assessing or progressing resident initiated boundary adjustment proposals, and any questions regarding the process should be directed to the Local Government Boundaries Commission.

He said issues of financial consequences of any decision by the Commission would need to be considered at the appropriate time.

Local resident, John Lush, said Mallala/Dublin ward has a lot in common with WRC.

“My personal view is there are a lot of synergies between the WRC area and the Mallala/Dublin ward, both are agricultural, they both mostly have unsealed roads and just generally have more issues in common,” Mr Lush said.

“The council rates in Wakefield Regional Council are much cheaper than APC, and with a rumour that rates may increase by 10 per cent or more, people just can’t afford that sort of increase – it is killing the district,” Mr Lawrence said.

A spokesperson for Wakefield Regional Council, said no information or official communication has been received from either the Adelaide Plains Council or the residents’ group, and said, as such, it was inappropriate to comment.

Mr Lawrence said the feeling of people he has spoken to in the Two Wells area is also a positive one – basically ‘anything for cheaper rates!’

“With a crippling debt, there wouldn’t be much money left to work in the community,” he said.

Mr Lawrence said the APRRA would be collecting names for the petition until the end of the month, at which time it will be lodged with Stephan Knoll, who is currently conducting an LGA review.

If you’d like more information or wish to sign the petition, please contact Mel on 0432 939 446.

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