NEW planning laws threaten to erode the rights of south-west communities, according to several of the region’s councillors.

The solidarity came as councillors from across the state marched on the steps of Parliament yesterday to protest against the Government’s new planning powers.

Warrnambool City councillors Peter Hulin and Jennifer Lowe along with Glenelg Shire councillor Gilbert Wilson backed the Coalition of Concerned Councillors’ demonstration.

“I don’t believe that this is the correct way in which they (Government) should be heading,” Cr Wilson said.

“Taking away the rights of people to object to something that they don’t want next door to them is not based on good governance.”

The rally was held at 1pm yesterday to speak out against legislation that will deprive local communities of the right to have their elected councillors make decisions, particularly on major developments.

The Government argues the new laws are designed to streamline development and stimulate local economies during the economic downturn.

Cr Hulin said the State Government’s decision to fluoridate Warrnambool’s water supply was classic example of the concerning trend towards removing the community’s “democratic rights”.

“I keep going on about fluoride but it’s not about fluoride,” he said.

“It’s the fact that we had our rights taken away from us.”

“If you tried to pull this sort of thing in Europe, you’d be drawn and quartered because they’ve lived under dictators.”

Cr Lowe said the planning laws appeared to be a greater issue for metropolitan councils.

“It’s in principle that it’s taking the power away from the local people,” she said.