A PLAN to investigate a merger between Bayswater and Bassendean councils has been promptly knocked on the head.
But the debate has highlighted divisions at Bayswater, and a communication breakdown that left some councillors with no idea staff were already being sent across the border to work in Bassendean.
At last week’s meeting Bayswater councillor Catherine Ehrhardt put up a notice of motion calling for the mayor and CEO to “commence discussions” with their Bassendean counterparts to look at sharing resources, services, facilities, and discuss potential amalgamation down the track.
But Bassendean mayor Renée McLennan, who’d got wind of the motion, fronted Bayswater’s public question time to ask a few pointed queries and make clear she desn’t like the plan.
She said the former Barnett government’s cancelled attempt to merge the two had “huge negative effect and impact due to the enormous drain of time and resources on our local governments”.
Cr McLennan said she had a good working relationship with mayor Dan Bull and was disappointed Cr Ehrhardt hadn’t run this past her before it appeared on the agenda.
Cr Ehrhardt said her motion called for nothing more than a “discussion”.
“There are potentially many benefits to both of our communities, and this is something the report will address.
“It might show that we can reduce operating costs by sharing services, that we might garner a better economy of scale and purchasing power.”
The motion was lost, with only four votes in favour (Crs Ehrhardt, Filomena Piffaretti, Steven Ostaszewskyj, Michelle Sutherland.
Bayswater currently contracts its staff across the border for jobs like killing Bassendean mosquitoes.
Bassendean also pays to have development applications run past experts on Bayswater’s Design Review Panel, something deputy mayor Filomena Pifferetti said she’d never heard of before.
“You’re contracting out our staff to the Town of Bassendean… is it because it’s operational that I’m not told about it,” she quizzed CEO Andrew Brien.
He replied that he thought a memo had gone out to inform councillors of some of the service-sharing, but he’d have to double check.
Cr Ehrhardt said her motion would lead to an “open and transparent report, a report that could identify potential cost savings to the city, a report on what we’re actually already doing”.
Cr Sally Palmer, whose ward borders Bassendean, opposed the motion and said it “whipped up unnecessary, time-consuming articles, emails, etc”.
She suggested the motion had a “hidden agenda”.
“If anyone has a problem bring it on board, and not as a notice of motion to gain publicity – because in my opinion that’s what it seems to be,” Cr Palmer said.
Cr Bull interjected and Cr Ehrhardt called for an apology.
“I take that back,” Cr Palmer said. “I apologise to you, my dear.”
By DAVID BELL