Legal bid after cheated out of $24m

INNER West Council will take legal action against the NSW Government over their “maladministration of the Stronger Communities Fund”.

Inner West Council has joined with Canterbury Bankstown to engage Bret Walker SC and will now jointly write to all councils who believe they were improperly excluded from applying for grants asking them to join the action.
“We will be writing to the more than 20 other councils that were eligible but were excluded by the NSW Government, for blatantly partisan reasons, seeking their support to collectively pursue the matter in court,” Mayor Byrne said.
“Through highly improper methods, 95 per cent of the funds in the program went to Liberal and National Party electorates. The Inner West Council did not receive a cent and was cheated out of $24 million, which would have paid for local infrastructure upgrades.”
Mayor Cr Byrne said communities right across the State had missed out on vital money for local infrastructure simply because they were not in areas held by members of the NSW Government.
“The Stronger Communities fund was supposedly established to help with infrastructure needs in merged council areas,” he said.
“Not only did Inner West and Canterbury-Bankstown (two of the largest merged councils) not receive a cent from the fund, the NSW Office of Local Government actually kept secret from us that the fund existed at all – we weren’t even allowed to apply.”
Mr Walker will provide Inner West Council and Canterbury Bankstown Council with formal legal advice in writing over coming weeks.