Dispute over Senior Citizens donation

The Grafton Community Centre will be the headquarters for Headspace.
The Grafton Community Centre will be the headquarters for Headspace. Tim Howard

GRAFTON Senior Citizens will be returned some of the money they donated to Clarence Valley Council for the Grafton Community Centre, but not the full amount.

In December of 2001, they donated $20,000 to council towards the cost of a meeting place for its members at the Grafton Community Centre.

However, when Headspace took over the operation of the community centre, the Grafton Senior Citizens requested council return their donation as they would no longer have use of the community centre.

Cr Karen Toms said as councillors they often have to made tough decisions, and deciding to decrease the amount returned to the senior citizens to $5000 was one of those difficult decisions.

"For 16 years they've used the facility almost free of charge, and I think that is great, but sometimes things change, like the fact that people have been committing suicide in our area...we as a council (saw a need to address that),” she said.

"The fact that the Grafton Senior Citizens were asked to move to another venue to make room for that facility was really important.

"We tried to come up with other venues, but there was other criteria that was needed and that was the only facility that fitted the criteria,” Cr Toms said.

When the senior citizens moved to the Clarence River Jockey Club to make room for Headspace, Clarence Valley Council donated $5000 to help assist with venue hire for this year, and said they would help them apply for grants in the future.

Cr Arthur Lysaught and Peter Ellem said they believed council should return the full amount.

"They gave up their venue to allow the youth Headspace facility to go in there, they have been more than reasonable, it's really big of some of us to say 'oh no, you're only worth $5000'...what a slap in the face for the Grafton Senior Citizens,” Cr Ellem said.

"It's uncongenial behaviour to just not listen to their request, it's a reasonable one.”

Cr Andrew Baker echoed Cr Tom's sentiments saying it would be nice if council could be that generous.

Councillors Baker, Kingsley, Williamson, Novak and Toms voted to return $5000 of the donated money to the Grafton Senior Citizens.

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