Careful what you wish for with de-amalgamation - GM
DESPITE protesting against the merger over a decade ago, council's GM believes the current council model is better placed to manage the needs of the area.
"In 2005 I actually worked for Maclean Shire Council and was part of the march up the main street of Maclean, protesting against the amalgamation," said Clarence Valley Council's general manager, Ashley Lindsay.
"I guess since then we have got on with it and it's rather ironic that here I am the general manager of Clarence Valley Council. Who would have thought?"
Mr Lindsay said that while he understood why some people might call for de-amalgamation, it was not necessarily in the best interests of the community.
"The organisation now is far better equipped to manage council services than they were back in 2004.
"The larger organisation has a greater capacity to deliver better services to the community."
In the lead-up to the state election, State Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis expressed similar sentiments to Mr Lindsay, saying there was no merit to the idea of de-amalgamation.
"It's too far gone and it would be far too costly to de-amalgamate," he said.
"There are some disappointments with the amalgamation and I understand that, but it's water under the bridge now and we just need to look forward."
Mr Lindsay defended the council from any suggestion that it was too Grafton-centric.
He said the council office location served a natural purpose because it was the geographic centre of the LGA and its population base.
"I guess from an operational perspective the Grafton area lends itself to allowing us to get out to the far-reaching areas of the Clarence Valley a little bit more than if we had our main office in Maclean," he said.
"The major population base is Grafton and its surrounds, the majority of people live in the greater Grafton area.
"I live in Yamba and there is certainly no intention to focus on Grafton and I try to ensure that I am all-inclusive in my dealings with the community."
While Mr Lindsay could not rule out the possibility of a de-amalgamation in the future, citing his past experience with Warringah and Pittwater councils, he sounded a warning to those who might be agitating for a change.
"You have to be careful what you wish for.
"The people who are promoting de-amalgamation need to be careful as if they were to take on that cost, over half of council's current debt rests with infrastructure that was constructed in the former Maclean Shire area and that debt would have to be serviced by a smaller rate base and would potentially make it unaffordable for them."