Late paperwork almost costs fire service grant as well

Maclean Showgrounds. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner
Maclean Showgrounds. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner JoJo Newby

LATE paperwork that cost the Maclean Showground grant funding for repairs could have also cost another Clarence Valley group their grant, except for an error in assessment by the State Government.

The Maclean Showground Society missed out on a Public Reserve Management Funding grant of $62,000 for the upgrade of its stables after Clarence Valley Council failed to submit a final report for a previous grant for weed control at a Mountain View Park Reserve. The society was informed the grant was successful, only to be told shortly after it had been withdrawn.

However, a grant application to the same fund for the Wooloweyah Rural Fire Service was successful, leading to confusion within council.

Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said last week it was difficult to understand why the application for the Maclean Showground was refused when the RFS grant, which was subject to the same guidelines, was approved.

He said the department claimed the application was refused because documents about a weed eradication project at Mountain View were not submitted on time.

"We concede that, but the documentation was provided within a week after the funding applications closed," he said.

"What we can't understand is why their rules seem to have been applied differently for two applications under the same program."

After repeated inquiries from The Daily Examiner, the Department of Industry - Lands clarified the reasons, stating due to an incorrect assessment, Wooloweyah Rural Fire Service had received grant funding despite not meeting the requirements.

"This is an extremely popular and competitive fund which this year has seen more than 770 applications from communities across the state," a spokesman said.

"The guidelines for eligibility are very clear. All Reserve Trust managers must show they have fully met their obligations in delivering past projects before they can apply for further funding.

"The department did not correctly assess the Wooloweyah Bush Fire Brigade Reserve application but the funding commitment will be honoured."

A total 440 applications from 770 in NSW were successful, with Clarence Valley Council making 10 applications. The department said it was reviewing its processes ahead of the next round of funding in 2018-19.

Mr Lindsay said in a statement last week he would like the department to reconsider its decision.

"It's not the fault of the Maclean Show Society that the weeds report wasn't filed," he said.

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