Multi-million dollar council hub moves forward

PLANS for the construction of a multi-million dollar council depot have jumped forward with a decision from the Clarence Valley Council to put the project out to tender.

The motion was the first to come to the table at Tuesday's council meeting, and councillors warmed up for the evening with a passionate debate.

While some, including Mayor Richie Williamson, simply saw the tender process as the next logical step, other councillors were concerned not enough alternative methods of acquisition had been explored.

The planned $13.3million super-site at South Grafton will consolidate five Clarence Valley Council works depots into one at a cost saving of about a million dollars a year, according to an independent report.

The layout of the proposed Clarence Valley Council depot on the corner of Skinner and Tyson sts, South Grafton.
The layout of the proposed Clarence Valley Council depot on the corner of Skinner and Tyson sts, South Grafton.

A DA for the site was also approved by the Joint Regional Planning Panel last month, but Councillor Andrew Baker said he felt there were other options, like renovating or renting, which hadn't been properly explored. He also felt the public consultation process had not been adequate.

"We seem to be rushing on each step when the state government have already set out the process we have to go through to keep faith with the people who employ us," he said.

For Councillor Karen Toms, the most pressing concern was finance.

"I don't see this as something positive for ratepayers in the way we are proposing to finance this," she said.

Cr Toms said she didn't have much faith in the report touting the cost-saving benefits of the new depot and believed there were wiser ways to get new infrastructure built than to use the council's own money.

"We are four months out to the next council election. This is a major decision this council is making that's going to impact on the next council for a very long time. It seems to me it wouldn't hurt to wait."

But Councillor Sue Hughes felt there wasn't any time to waste.

"The independent report states facilities are at near end of life and will need $8.7million to make them compliant," she said.

"Blind Freddy can see it's the best decision for us to move to the tender process."

It was Councillor Arthur Lysaught that brought the debate to a close however, by comparing the possible delay of the project to that of the MacLachlan Park upgrade.

"The (project) wouldn't be at this point had not majority of people approved the project to where it is today and now we're at the eleventh hour and considering changing a couple of years' work," he said.

The motion was carried and tenders are expected to be called for in the near future.



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