Have your say

12th May 2020

Four years on - was it worth it?

Guyra residents have now had 4 years living with the blatantly unsuccessful forced merger with Armidale. Without change, the future is looking even worse for residents of both Armidale and Guyra. All of the merger ‘bribe money’ has disappeared with the main street that was used as the ’big carrot’ being half done and not nearly finished. Was this all worth it for loss of our valuable autonomy?
The drought and virus cannot be blamed for our predicament; given 15 businesses closed and lost in our town. Only now we, the residents and ratepayers, fully see that amalgamation has not turned for our betterment but rather the complete opposite. We have not only lost our voice,“Guyra knows what is best for Guyra”, we have lost our autonomy and we’ve suffered economic loss.
We now share a huge debt, with no way of funding ‘the pie in the sky’ projects. Where are the proponents who told us the success of this merger? They are not heard or seen but are they in a position to benefit from securing opportunities for themselves? Even the former Mayor says there is no evidence that the merger has been any benefit to Guyra. He is now calling for a larger area to be merged with the hope that it might work. What a shame these well-educated, so called business minded representatives, fail to address the real problems of reduced Federal Assistant Grants and cost shifting to local government, which are real issues that contribute to fitness for purpose of Local Government.
Guyra residents are very upset about the sale of hard won, specific purpose, Guyra owned assets, including homes and road maintenance equipment and the simultaneous increase in the number of new charges (over 60) together with increased water and waste charges and increased rate charges as a result of rate harmonisation yet to hit the desk.
Are the unprecedented water issues and ongoing water restrictions relevant to Guyra or are they protecting big business? Have we, the Guyra community, been adequately consulted about other projects like the rail trail, the airport, the new waste facility? Can we reflect that there has been failure to attempt consensus on these issues? Can we guess that the council’s current mode of operation appears so dysfunctional that they could not run a significant organisation, designed to service a whole community?
A poll run in Guyra and Tingha which clearly showed a majority want their council back, was rubbished by the very people who said they would support a demerger for Guyra if it were sought by more than 50%. Well our poll showed well in excess of 90% wanted Guyra council back but that received a disgraceful “no action” reaction. We are now subjected to the factional fighting rather than elected councillors listening to the needs of residents. It is a reputation earned by Armidale Councils in the past and becoming entangled in such a council has exceed our worst nightmares.
Unlike councillors of other forced mergers, councillors of Armidale Regional Council refuse to acknowledge this failure. Other councils forcibly merged at the same time, Gundagai/Cootamundra Council have invested, on behalf their residents, in a study by Dr. Joseph Drew, into the outcome of their forced merger. His report clearly shows the failure of the merger recommending the two should demerge. The ARC has not attempted a similar enquiry on behalf of our residents, rather they sell off assets and get rid of Tingha, gut the Shire, in an effort to ensure the chance for demerger is lost.
Proponents and advocates for merger want us to give up on our democracy. They want to keep this community in a place where we no longer have a voice in our destiny. They want us to give up despite the fact they cannot show any evidence or benefit to residents. It is the only way they have left to destroy the will and resilience of small rural communities that should be seen as their greatest asset.
Despite the fact that we are told and expected to ‘just give up’, a group of residents with a vision for our future, have, with courage and determination held meetings; have met with Adam Marshall, and we are encouraged by the result.
As we mark the 4th anniversary of the forced amalgamation and the next rate notice hits your desk (or screen – as they would have it) remember with us, to keep believing in the value of communities, not in dollar terms, but for the very fabric that holds this country spirit together.
Guyra are we going to become a village with a hardly any businessess left? We say no we aren’t, and let’s make Guyra great again.
Gordon Youman
Save and Grow Guyra

The Rudderless Ship
Many thanks to the NSW Coalition Government for throwing the residents of Guyra onto the rudderless ship called “Armidale Regional Council”.
As it staggers from one undecided motion to another; e.g., do we sack the Mayor and General Manager (at considerable cost to ratepayers)?
One only has to walk up the half empty Beardy Street to see the dynamic merged council’s effect on business investment.
I think the old story of the bus travelling from a lunatic asylum in Sydney to Brisbane and tipping over outside Armidale Council, with some passengers running inside - so that the strange behavior of several councilors could be explained: “Yes, he/she was on the bus”!
David Bearup