Opposition to a merger of the Sydney City and South Sydney Councils is strengthening, with the lord mayor of Sydney and the mayor of South Sydney both coming out fighting against the proposal this week.

Lord mayor Lucy Turnbull issued a press statement demanding the minister for Local Government, Tony Kelly, declare why the merger should happen.

No one has stepped forward with any evidence to show it would be a good thing. No one has presented one iota of proof to say the residents and ratepayers of either council will be better off, Turnbull said. The merger would have a negative financial impact on the City and would result in a lower standard of services offered to residents, she warned.

But a spokesperson for the minister told Sydney Star Observer the minister would not be making any comments on the merger while it is before the Local Government Boundaries Commission. The Commission is due to make their recommendations on the proposed merger by 9 February.

South Sydney mayor Tony Pooley told the Commission that the Sydney City/South Sydney boundary issue should be examined as part of a major review of inner-city councils planned for later in 2004.

In order to ensure some level of certainty to the residents, ratepayers, businesses and staff of the respective councils, any proposed reform of inner-city Councils should be implemented in a single decision, rather than a piecemeal, incremental change, the councillors of South Sydney stated in their submission to the Boundaries Commission.

While the merger has raised the ire of both councils, residents have also voiced their opposition to the proposal.

Over 130 residents of South Sydney Council attended a meeting at Redfern Town Hall on Wednesday of last week, with the majority opposing amalgamation.

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