Residents, ratepayers, workers, and community supporters will today hold a ‘wake’ to pay their respects for local democracy at Cumberland Council in Sydney’s west after Administrator Viv May unilaterally abolished community committees that operate parks, sporting facilities, and heritage items, as well as moving to outsource all waste services.

Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton is being urged to intervene at the council — formed in May last year by the forced amalgamation of Holroyd with parts of Parramatta and Auburn — with residents and workers demanding major decisions wait until the election of new councillors in September.

The United Services Union, which represents workers at the council, is supporting the efforts of the local community in its fight to retain local services, community committees, and jobs.

“Today, the workers and residents at Cumberland Council are paying their respects,” USU general secretary Graeme Kelly said.

“Local democracy has been killed off at this new council by the Administrator Viv May.

“Rather than allow the community to decide the future of their council, a series of major changes are being forced through in the months before local people will get the chance to elect a new council.

“Local parks committees, which have successfully operated sporting and recreational facilities throughout the community for decades, were last week told they were being dissolved, with this community involvement to end and the work instead to be taken over by council staff.

“At the same time, Mr May announced all waste services at the council would be put out to tender, with a decision on a future multi-million dollar contract to be finalised just a week before newly elected councillors will take the helm.

“What we are seeing at Holroyd are the worst fears of those against council amalgamations realised, with autocratic rule forcing long-term changes on a community with no democratic input.

“Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton needs to urgently intervene and ensure that major decisions that will shape the community for years and decades to come are determined by elected councillors, not by an appointed administrator.”

Media contact: Tim Vollmer — 0404 273 313