Local, Opinion/Comment

Councils resolution to pause the CCC – ‘the devil is in the detail’ folk!

Last week’s mammoth 6 hour Coffs Harbour Council meeting voted unanimously to review components of the financing and potential make-up of the contentious proposed CCC in Gordon Street.

By Grant Cairncross (Editor of CCO)

With the passage of time we have picked up on a number of crtical issues we believe need addressing.

We do this by commenting in bold under each section of the resolution below.

A temporary pause on the inclusion of Property (a) Administration Building and Property (b) Rigby House from any Expression of Interest for sale process.

RECOMMENDATION:That Council:

1. Decline to accept the amounts tendered via the expression of Interest process for the sale of Council properties that concluded on 9 April 2020, being. a. Property (a) Administration Building,2 Castle St, Coffs Harbour (Lot 2 DP 566885, Lot 1 DP 566855, Lot 8 Sec 6 DP 758258), b. Property (b) Rigby House, 27-29 Duke Street Coffs Harbour (Lot 110 Sec DP 777398), c. Property (c) Museum, 215A Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour (Lot 101 Sec DP 1041655)

Good. That is the only sensible and sane thing to do given what has been happening to property prices, both commercial and residential, since the Covid 19 pandemic swept around the world. We understand none of the tenders were remotely close to what Council had mandated as minimum sale prices.

2. Place a temporary pause on the inclusion of Property (a) Administration Building and Property (b) Rigby House from any Expression of Interest for sale process.

The reasoning behind why the sale pause of the properties is temporary only at this point in time needs to be explained in more detail for ratepayers. So far so good but what is the situation if the abovementioned property prices issue lasts three years or longer – what are Councils options then?

3. Authorise the General Manager to engage in negotiations with prospective buyers via the commercial real estate agent engaged by Council under the current agency agreement with a view to achieving a reasonable offer in line with market value for Property (c) above (Museum Building) and Property (d) 169-171 Rose Ave, Coffs Harbour (Lot 100 Sec DP 861850).

The market value is what the market is willing to pay at any given point in time. End of story!

If offers fall below what Council mandated in relation to these sales of public ratepayer owned properties last year then they should remain in public ownership until property prices improve or a new Council decides to alter course in this regards.

The museum building is currently still for sale.

4. Note that a report will be brought back to Council in regard to property sale negotiations.

So it should. And it should be open on the council meeting agenda, detail what has been offered and why and not be hidden away from the view of Coffs Harbour citizens under “weasel word”, opaque terms such as “commercial in confidence”.

5. Request a report detailing alternative funding options for the Cultural and Civic Space Project for the funding component relating to property asset sales.

We heartily concur with the words of Rob Trezise on the Coffs Coast News and Views Facebook site today and which are re-produced below;

What we as a community need to be wary of is the change to the C&C Space has been merely designed as an attempt to receive a Government Grant by removing Council offices from the project that it wouldn’t otherwise have received if the were left in.

And then what if the building gets built with the Government money, what is to stop future Councils moving itself into the so called “commercial office space”.

Mayor Knight and GM McGrath, I think that you are taking the community, and the Government, for a ride if you think we are going to cop this “pea under the shell trick”. I am pretty sure the Government won’t either, especially if they are being lied to.

6. Receives a report detailing the financial implications of the removal the proposed functions of Council staff offices and associated working spaces within the Cultural and Civic Space, (other than Library, Gallery and Museum staff) and exploring opportunities for alternative uses for the space including community and/or commercial uses.

This is good as far as it goes but this needs more clarification. We offer some suggestions below in this regard;

Who will do the reports?

What will the report author’s required expertise need to be?

How will their independence in relation to doing the report be ensured?

How much has been budgeted for the report?

What deadline is the report working to?

Will copies of the report be made public?

Will the community have a chance to have input into all the reports named above? If not why not?

The above resolution needs to be tightened so as to meet what is known in Strategic Management as the SMART test. Namely it needs to ensure it meets the following criteria. The motion and reports needs to be made;

Specific

Measurable

Assignable

Realistic, and

Time based .

Otherwise the motions and reports alluded to in them will be worthless.

5 Comments

  1. So, Council is still going to build the building, but all of the Council Spaces will be renamed “general for rent” office space and they will see if they can rent them. So going over budget for project is OK if it doesnt include the words “Council” the space doesnt change, the cost doesnt change. The change is only in the dialogue, which is a temporary smoke screen to try and ease the current pressure.
    It doesnt really change anything. Do people really believe that Council doesnt have intentions of having their new castle. Is this the”Pinocchio effect” Desperate times call for desperate measures.
    Im sure that Shelley Hancock isn’t that naive

  2. Grant, a concise and easily readable summation of the position in which council has placed itself. This contrasts vividly with the nature of “reports” provided by council, which would seem to be purpose-built to confuse the reader, and thereby conceal the truth.
    Thank you for clarifying the key issues.

  3. The younger generation

    The biggest mistake still is not including a performance centre that this community so desperately needs, whether the vocal older generation will want you to believe or not. It is the most important driver of a growing community and will drive indirect investment around it, not to mention help sculpt a positive demographic looking to move here from cities where cultural entertainment is valued and has been a given for them.
    Leaving it in the hands of an RSL with only financial interests in mind will be another step backwards for Coffs Harbour and the community, and will only keep it the same culturally stale town it always has been.

    • 40cmPedestalFan

      Before speaking with The younger generation a quick mention to acknowledge the very rich and varied articles published here on ‘Coffs Coast Outlook’. A very rare treat indeed, one greatly appreciated and never taken for granted. Thank you.

      The younger generation has nailed it. The current incarnation of a cultural centre is a pale, insipid imitation of what Coffs Coast deserves – and could benefit from. Sadly, if this project flops, deflated, gasping, tattered and bruisingly expensive over the line, with lights on and doors open, it will illuminate the terrible truth that the Coffs region won’t have what The younger generation has detailed for, what, another fifty years? The big screaming silly dance that our Mayor and the vision-less councillors will inwardly do, if this thing lights up, will be celebrating in large part, though they clearly don’t know it, a tragic loss.

      The younger generation may be interested to know that the original discussions for a cultural centre on City Hill included a professional performance space (and, not incidentally, included a suite of commercial space at ground level to help pay for the project, and populate and energise the amenity). The rationale then, as it is now, is that big-money productions could be staged here. Consider the bus loads that travel from our region to Sydney, and even Melbourne, for such a production, then wonder how far our reach would be if a venue was right in midst. Consider someone from Newcastle, say, who has to battle air or bus or car fare, traffic, city prices for accommodation, arrival-to-venue hassles: would they instead whizz up to Coffs?

      Of course they would, along with others from much further afield, evidenced by our own migratory movements as mentioned.

      Put Coffs on the map, as The younger generation eloquently states? Absolutely bang on the money. Inestimable value!

      I used the word ‘vision-less’ there decisively, because what is masquerading as vision in relation to this current project is nothing compared with true vision. It is sickening to hear the word in this context. Never, never must our Mayor be let to claim and gain ownership of the word “vision”. Never. (Incidentally, more evidence in simplistic thinking has appeared in Denise Knight’s recent interviews. Unfortunately,other local media is beneficent and goodwill-based and won’t call her out on it, or at least question it.)

      So to The younger generation we must apologise, if this CCC retches itself into fruition, for the loss, the loss, the terrible loss of what could have been.

  4. I’m one of a generation of old farts who have stuffed the planet, or rather, who have allowed the planet to be stuffed. I, and many of my fellows, fervently hope that the the younger generation can undo at least some of the harm which we have done, through our inaction. My piss weak excuse is that, no matter what I did, I could not affect change, so I chose to do nothing. I relinquished my power without even realising it.

    As a result the world is controlled by arseholes like Scomo and The Trump Card, a deplorable situation.

    I lost what faith I ever had when the forces of elitist dictatorship, in the guise of John Kerr, Malcolm Fraser and a biased, power hungry media, annihilated democracy by destroying the Whitlam Government, and in so doing, committed us to a political model which sought to emulate the obscene American capitalist method of favouring the rich and screwing the poor.

    As PedestalFan has so rightly said, the younger generation has, indeed, nailed it! Our council might have been recognised in decades to come as the group which created an architectural masterpiece, housing an art gallery, museum and library, along with an outstanding performance space, capable of catering to artists of the calibre of Elton John – an attraction which would have drawn people from hundreds of kilometres away, and not just holiday makers here for the beaches.

    Instead, they have ruthlessly driven ahead in an attempt to build what would eventually become a monument to their egocentric stupidity.

    I, too, apologise for the way in which my generation has comprehensively failed to create a nation, and a world, which is fit to be passed on to our children and grandchildren, and I implore the younger generation to learn from our mistakes. Make enough noise to bring the bastards down!

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