Shut down idea to ‘demerge’ solution

AN occasionally fiery debate about Cumberland Council’s budget position turned into a high drama on Wednesday, with Councillor Greg Cummings walking out of the meeting.

However Mayor Steve Christou later labelled the walkout as “a stunt”.
It followed a lengthy and often acrimonious debate during which Cr Cummings and Cr Glenn Elmore both highlighted flaws in the financial viability of the creation of Cumberland’s rate base.
Cr Cummings later responded angrily to a comment from Cr Ned Attie who urged his fellow councillors to “please get off this stupid bandwagon” in relation to a demerge campaign and petition launched by State Labor MP for Prospect, Hugh McDermott.
“This council is not going to demerge,” Cr Attie said.
However Cr Cummings claimed he’d been misrepresented.
During the debate, the council’s director, finance and governance, Richard Sheridan, responded to a question about the cost of the LGA’s 17 childcare centres saying they were being subsidised by about $6 million a year.
When Cr Zaiter noted that 15 of those services were located in the former Holroyd Council area, Cr Cummings hit back to say that Holroyd ran them “for 30 years without a problem” before leaving the chamber.
“I’m listening to dribble, I bid you goodnight,” he said as he left.
Moments earlier, Cr Christou had issued his predecessor with two warnings for repeatedly interrupting Cr Michael Zaiter to highlight that discrepancy between the higher rates paid by former Holroyd residents and those paid by former Auburn or Parramatta residents.
Cr Zaiter pointed out that related to a special rate variation (SRV) agreed to in 2014 by Holroyd, all of which had been spent in their area.
“On this basis, our Holroyd residents have not been short-changed by Cumberland Council,” Cr Zaiter said.