Cr James Purcell wants Moyne Shire to revert back to its former state of five shires. MOYNE Shire councillor James Purcell has called on the state government to pull the municipality apart and return it to its pre-1994 set-up.
Nanjing Night Net

Cr Purcell said he wanted to see the shire become five shires again as it had become too big, too unwieldy and ultimately neglected the requirements of some of the areas within its control.

Under a local government restructure by the former Kennett government in 1994, Moyne Shire was formed through an amalgamation of the shires of Belfast, Minhamite, Warrnambool and Mortlake and the Borough of Port Fairy.

“I just think the Moyne Shire is all over the shop,” Cr Purcell said.

“It’s too hard to manage because it’s such a big area. It’s a long way from Peterborough to Port Fairy and it’s a long way from Hawkesdale to Peterborough.

“I really don’t think there are many benefits for the ratepayers with the way things are now.

“With such a big area, it’s just too hard to manage and do it right. Mortlake has nothing in common with places like Peterborough or Port Fairy.

“We’re dealing with people with entirely different wants and needs in their local communities.”

Cr Purcell is in his fourth year as a Moyne Shire councillor and also served as mayor for one term. Before joining the council, he was a shire employee.

“I think it would be better for everyone if we went back to the old system where people could look after their own areas,” he said.

“All the councillors get comments from ratepayers saying other areas in the shire are getting better looked after then them.

“It’s just so frustrating that we can’t do what we want to do because we’re so thin on the ground.

“I think under the old system each shire had a feeling that they were in charge of their own area. It’s not like that now, as I said. We are very thin on the ground and not giving what the ratepayers need or want.”

Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine defended the current structure, saying a change back to the pre-amalgamation set-up would be a step backwards.

“I’m not saying what is in place now is perfect, but it’s better than what it was,” Dr Napthine said.

“If there was a change back to five shires, the rates would be higher.

“Ratepayers all over the place want better services but they don’t want to pay the money.

“It’s up to the local councils to get the mix right on the best places to spend the money.

“If we had five shires in the area again the services which would be offered would be less but the costs would be higher.”

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