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Plan robs ratepayers of vote
Betrayed: South Perth mayor Sue Doherty. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

Residents in all metropolitan council areas, except in the western suburbs, will not be allowed to veto planned mergers under the State Government's latest plans.

Irate mayors say the Government is using a loophole in the Local Government Act to disenfranchise communities across Perth while keeping the poll provisions alive in Premier Colin Barnett's own electorate.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson's recently released plans for city council reforms propose that when two councils merge, one would be abolished and the other expanded to incorporate the other.

Under the Act, two or more councils must be abolished and amalgamated to trigger the Dadour provisions that allow residents to force a vote on the proposal and potentially stop it.

But Mr Simpson proposes "boundary adjustments" in South Perth-Victoria Park, Vincent-Perth, Bassendean-Bayswater, Canning-Gosnells, Fremantle-East Fremantle, Cockburn-Kwinana, Swan-Mundaring, Armadale-Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Kalamunda-Belmont, Stirling and Melville - effectively disallowing a local vote and veto. It is proposed to amalgamate the seven western suburbs councils.

South Perth mayor Sue Doherty said the proposal was a shock.

She said the South Perth council had engaged in reforms with goodwill only to find the minister "betrayed us".

Kalamunda shire president Sue Bilich described the approach as underhanded. "We entered into discussions about reform thinking it would be an open and transparent process but this has not been the case so far," she said.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said this was another broken Government promise.

"Mr Barnett promised not to force council mergers," he said. "Now he is doing exactly that and subverting the democratic rights of thousands in the process while letting his own electorate of Cottesloe have a say."

Mr Simpson's proposals have been submitted to the Local Government Advisory Board for consideration. The board has called for public submissions responding to the minister's proposals and those submitted by local councils until March 13.