Withdrawal will not leave Peninsula councils out of pocket

EYRE Peninsula councils will not have to pay the shortfall left by the Whyalla City Council's decision to withdraw its membership from Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP).

The RDAWEP is funded by councils, state and federal government to drive economic, business and tourism development in the region.

Whyalla's membership was worth $184,181 but RDAWEP chief executive officer Dion Dorward said the organisation would reduce its operating costs rather than ask the remaining councils to make up the difference.

Mr Dorward said RDAWEP met with Whyalla City Council chief executive officer Chris Cowley some weeks ago to negotiate what programs the council would continue but was yet to hear back.

He said if any of those programs required RDAWEP involvement then it would "look for appropriate recompense".

That will involve charging the council per project and Mr Dorward said in similar cases interstate RDAs were charging $1100 per day for that type of work for non-member councils.

"Whyalla's transform agenda has been largely informed by RDAWEP and partners (industry) and it is not automatic that those projects would continue on with the council," he said.

"A lot of councils and others have expressed some relief at the news because the Whyalla council hasn't always been that considerate of the rest of the region's needs - they have been very inward looking.

"The absence of Whyalla council gives us greater time to work more closely with the other member councils so from that point of view it's positive."

Mr Dorward said he had also been approached by a number of stakeholders who wanted Whyalla to be taken out of the name but that decision would be up to the board.

He said RDAWEP appreciated the support expressed by stakeholders and the state and federal government in the time since the Whyalla council's decision in October.

"When you go over the last six to 12 months, RDAWEP conducted over 11 workshops with member councils to inform RDAWEP's priorities over the next three years, these form the basis of an implementation plan for the region's strategic plan adopted by the EPLGA (Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association)," Mr Dorward said.

"That's all about regional transformation - how to transform the economy into the future.

Mr Dorward said RDAWEP would be focusing on key projects on Eyre Peninsula to help achieve that "new economy" including space and port infrastructure and tourism.

Mr Dorward said it was not clear yet to RDAWEP or industry what the Whyalla council's overall economic plan was and how it would be implemented.

He said the overall growth of the Whyalla economy had "a long way to go" even with the transformation of the steelworks.

"Job creation and investment is at risk at present through this decision," Mr Dorward said.

"Now is definitely not the time for ad-hoc decision making and segmentation of effort."