Clarence Valley Council building on Prince Street, Grafton.
Clarence Valley Council building on Prince Street, Grafton.

Multi-million dollar council face-lift edges closer

A MAJOR redevelopment of the Clarence Valley Council building is on the cusp of proceeding after a funding arrangement was agreed by the CGW committee yesterday.

During the Corporate, Governance and Works Committee meeting councillors agreed to allocate $6.3 million dollars toward the renovation of the council offices on Prince St, Grafton.

The project would be funded through a combination of internal loans and allocations from building reserves.

During construction council staff would be relocated to 42 Victoria St. before council’s lease expires in September 2021 and all council meetings would be held in Maclean.

General manager Ashley Lindsay responded to questions regarding community consultation on the project by explaining it had been ongoing since council began its building-asset rationalisation project in 2014.

Council had since reduced the number of council depots from five to two and had offloaded their Pound St and Victoria St offices.

“It has been in council’s planning documents since 2014 and was part of council’s two Fit for the Future proposals to the Government and council’s SRV application,” he said.

“The refurbishment, refit and rationalisation of the depots and the administration buildings has certainly had plenty of scrutiny from the community.”

Councillor Peter Ellem said the project “should come as no surprise” and council had a “unique opportunity” to relocate staff to before the Victoria St. lease runs out.

“The conditions under which our internal staff have to work could best described as rabbit warrens – quite antiquated and cramped conditions,”

“Our IT people and our customer service team sort of have to work cheek to jowl in there.

“This is good, long-term asset management planning to bring the working conditions of hundreds of staff up to the current Australasian standards.”

The sole dissenting voice in the committee was councillor Jason Kingley who said the current design was “at odds” with legislative requirements to adopt disability inclusion plans.

He said the plans had not yet gone before the access committee.

“I think in this day and age this council should not be approving a design that doesn’t offer equal access to people with disabilities,” he said.

“By endorsing it, it would be going back to probably 20 or 30 years ago where we have access but it almost looks like a retrofit to give some token access to a building that should have incorporated equal access into its design.”

It was agreed the development would be funded by taking $2.5 million from the plant reserve, $2.5 million from the regional landfill general reserve, $1 million from the strategic building reserve and $300,000 from the admin building reserve.

The funds from the plant and landfill reserve are to be repaid over ten years from 2021.

Councillors Arthur Lysaught, Jim Simmons, Peter Ellem and Karen Toms voted in favour of the motion and Jason Kingsley against.

The final decision will be made at next week’s full council meeting.

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