Fight won: Shellharbour councillors voted to pursue legal action – and subsequent appeals – over the past year. Peter Moran this week formally apologised for voting against the last legal appeal.A Shellharbour councillor has delivered a heartfelt apology at the council’s first meeting since Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced she would reverse the plan to merge the council with Wollongong.
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Independent councillor Peter Moran sought forgiveness from councillors and the communityfor voting against the last stage of the council’s legal appeal.

“When we lost our court case and the time came for the council to pursue an appeal, I made a value judgement based on the information before me and chose to vote against pursuing an appeal,” he said.

“That was the wrong decision for me to have made in the event. I’m sure the community is aware that it is only the fact that we were engaged in the appeals process that actually saved us from being amalgamated.

“Iwish that I hadn’t voted that way.”

Amid saccharin optimism about the city’s future standing aloneother councillors declared he was immediately resolved; Liberal Kellie Marsh said she would not accept the apology as she did not think it necessary.

Ealrier, in a sentimental introduction to the meeting, Mayor Marianne Saliba rattled off a long list of thank yous to all those who has supported the “no merger” campaign.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward also made a guest appearance to speak about his support for the council remaining separate

“I’m pleased to be here and see that your council is continuing to meet and be a pulse for local democracy,” Mr Ward said.

“I think the brightest days of this council are in front of you.”

He reiterated his opposition to the merger proposal, and also made efforts to bury the hatchet with Ms Saliba; the pair exchanged many heated words in the past year.

“I know that you and I have had some interesting times over the past 12 months, but I want to thank you in particular for your strong leadership.” he said.

Despite the peace-making mood of the meeting, Cr Moran pointed out that the plan to drop the merger had not yet been officially decreed, meaning councillors were still obliged to adhere to rules for councils under merger proposals.

But general manager Carey McIntyre said he had been told the official notice from the Local Government Minister was “imminent”.

“Notwithstanding the announcement of February 14 that the state government would not be further pursuing a merge…Shellharbour City Council is yet to receive that advice in writing,” Mr McIntyre said.“The advice council officers have been able to obtain from the Office of Local Government is that that letter is imminent.”

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