OPINION: Waiting on merger news

THERE will be some nervous councillors and council staff in and around the North Coast with the State Government seemingly set to announce forced amalgamations before the end of the year.

Local Government Minister Paul Toole spoke plainly enough at the Local Government NSW conference yesterday, giving councils a final chance to put forward merger plans.

With IPART's Fit For The Future recommendations to be presented to it on Friday, the government will then have to decide how widespread mergers will be and how much flak it is prepared to take to get the results it wants.

It is hard to imagine Clarence Valley Council, just a decade on from being created by mergers, will be anywhere near the top of the government's hit list, despite a vocal and local minority calling on the Mr Toole to take action.

Further afield, however, the likes of Kyogle and Richmond Valley may well be destined for mergers, while Coffs Harbour might absorb Bellingen and even Nambucca council areas.

It is destined to be a controversial few months on the local government scene.

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