“CCS scheduled to start in April” – McGrath

Building work on the long-awaited Cultural and Civic Space is scheduled to start in April following approval of the tender for the construction phase of the project.

The construction offer was put forward by Lipman Pty Ltd (Lipman), the company that won the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) tender for the building.

The Design and Construct contract with Lipman includes finalisation of the building’s design, and construction of the building in accordance with that design.

Lipman is required to deliver the building for the agreed cost they have offered to finalise design and construction of the project.

“Having Lipman involved in the Detailed Design process alongside BVN Architecture has given them a strong and very thorough understanding of the scope and brief of the project,” said Steve McGrath, Coffs Harbour City Council’s General Manager.

“In addition, the ECI process has resulted in strong interest from local tradies, with approximately 55% of the cost of the building materials and labour being supplied by locals. We believe that this project is perfectly timed and placed to support local and region wide recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An earlier artists view of the proposed CCS – since slightly amended

“The total cost of the project is now expected to be $81.27 million, which is approximately $4.75 million (6.2%) over the $76.52 million project budget, established in 2018,” explained Mr McGrath.

“This project is still very much deliverable within Council’s long-term financial plan, especially considering that the current interest rate is 2.3% compared to the rate of 4.0% originally budgeted for. The main contributor to the increased project cost is the greater than expected escalation in construction costs over the past two and a half years.”


The above is a CHCC Press Release – Friday 12 March 2021.

8 thoughts on ““CCS scheduled to start in April” – McGrath

  1. Councillor Adendorff owns property in the CBD and is allowed to vote on the Cultural & Civic Space (CCS) project due to “non-pecuniary interests” so how can Coffs Harbour City Council declare the CCS will revitalise the CBD?

    Doesn’t this prove, by Council’s own admission, the CCS WILL NOT revitalise the CBD?

    Or, as Council’s declaration states that the CCS WILL revitalise the CBD, how can it allow Clr. Adendorff to vote on it? Shouldn’t those votes be declared inappropriate and the motions declared void?

    Coffs Harbour City Council, which one is it? Clr. Adendorff CAN vote, thereby voiding your declaration the CBD will be revitalised and you are guilty of misleading the public? Or Clr. Adendorff CANNOT vote, thereby voiding all relevant motions to it?

  2. The issue as I see it, in the first instance, isn’t whether Clr Adendorff has a conflict of interest. The primary issue is that Council has stated the benefits to the CBD, and I feel liability then sits in Council’s lap. Wherever that goes determines Clr Adendorff’s position in it.

    Below is from the agenda of the meeting to go ahead with the building contract, dated 25th of last month. I’m not sure when Council began declaring the CBD will be re-energised, rejuvenated, revitalised etc., but that’s where the problem started if this line of liability is correct. Here’s a copy-paste:

    Economic –Broader Economic Implications:

    An independent economic assessment identified a host of benefits to the CBD including a variety of financial benefits over a 30-year period totalling $57m, 31 on-going jobs and an extra $2m per annum Gross Regional Product, resulting in a positive benefit/cost ratio.

    I’m not a lawyer, yet by the looks of it I’d love to have this one to sleep on overnight. If anyone can see how Council can dodge it, please let us know. It hasn’t had bite previously because the focus has been on “conflict of interest” rather than Council’s role and actions, which is a different take on it. Clr Adendorff has said he’s received advice on it to cover himself, which is a good thing if it’s quality independent advice. Yet Council’s advice may have dated from much earlier along the timeline and got lost in the weight of issues, as this thing changed, or perhaps it’s yet another aspect of Council’s hubris, arrogance etc. for which it pisses people off.

    Certainly to layperson me it doesn’t look good on the face of it. If it has legs, the right thing to do is to hit Council with an injunction then sort it out.

  3. For clarity:

    1. Prior to a vote (and in general public statements) Council has been proferring specific advice stating that the CBD will very significantly benefit;

    2. Council has been accepting Clr Adendorff’s “non-pecuniary interest” declaration;

    3. Council has been using Clr Adendorff’s vote to progress the project.

  4. Finally, to put all of that in some context. There’s a cracker of a legal term that escapes me and I can’t locate, which refers to the required measure of what I can in substitute call ‘percipience’ — for the same act, one person who has qualifications, experience, resources, knowledge has a higher measure of percipience/expectation (for want of that term) applied to him than someone who doesn’t.

    In this case, the General Manager, who resides in an enduring paid position is expected to possess a higher level of percipience than a councillor who is elected from the community, notwithstanding that councillor is a solicitor, where councillors come and go. So there’s a higher critique that surely has to be applied to this, when looked at from the angle of Council’s responsibilities. It seems to me much more than a matter of definition of “non-pecuniary” or “conflict of interest”.

    Who, too, accepts the “non-pecuniary interests” declaration? A cleric? Who approves the declaration? Is it assessed? How often is it assessed? For every relevent meeting? Or once, at the beginning, then let ride no matter how the project progresses? For example, was this declaration assessed when the project had no significant impact on the CBD, and since has been taken as par for the project?

    When looking at it in terms of Council’s (Management’s) role, surely this carries more legal significance than “conflict of interest”, though that is in it. There has to be a higher degree of care and assiduity taken, when in an enduring management position, therefore other liabilities are raised, surely? I would have thought this goes higher than things like duty of care and diligence, and goes to some level of dereliction. It’s not as if the relevence is a minor matter, this is an $81 million-plus project.

    There are some relevencies in this that have to be included. This is not just a case of one councillor-owned property, nor far flung. This is not an extraneous vote of no consequence, the project continuing through the stages is contingent on the vote: it was required and it was accepted. This is not a case of some peripheral factor drawn into the matter: this is a case of Council providing direct advice at the heart of the matter in question. It’s not as if that advice was minimal, latterly that advice has been to the sum of $57million. It’s not as if the term is short-lived: the advice is to the range of 30 years.

    Who is the arbiter for accepting the councillor’s declaration? Council itself?

    1. Some extremely interesting points 40cm – perhaps some member of the local legal fraternity could investigate. I suspect you may be onto something here?

      The way I see it is this; we’ve been unfortunate in making our choice for Mayor as she is someone in my opinion who has turned out to be increasingly remote from the people who put her in those mayoral gowns. And later another, in my view, egregious Councilor handed her the opportunity to continually abuse some questionable right to employ a casting vote to benefit her misguided ambitions.

      Whatever thoughts she goes to bed with at night, surely she cannot be so glib as to think history will not mark her down as the worst Mayor ever to hold office in Coffs Harbour?

      Then we also have a General Manager who, with scheming intent in my view, has fulfilled a goal to impose domination and a controlling influence over not just Cr. Knight, but other Councillors who in the past have been so gullible as to renew his employment contract. Now it would appear they’ve simply become afraid of him. Why that might be is interesting in itself.

      In my opinion it is important to keep in mind Mr McGrath’s employment record and remember, as you have pointed out, how he landed this highly lucrative job with all its side emoluments.

      It’s now widely assumed Cr.Rhoades played a key role in installing Mr McGrath some 10 years ago. If this is true then the question now is, will Cr. Rhoades continue to perpetuate his protege by supporting the upcoming renewal of Mr McGrath’s contract ?

      Having financially driven the city’s future into the ground, it’s time in my opinion for Councillors to ‘see the GM off’ with 3-months notice.

      I reckon almost eleven years in the job is about five too many.

    2. 40cmPedestalFan raises an excellent point, and a “please explain” to council is certainly appropriate.

      However, I would have no faith whatsoever in a reply from Council, which will replicate Scomo’s “nothing to see here” strategy. We may well have been comprehensively lied to by Council, regarding numerous issues in my opinion. Not the least being Adendorff’s right to vote, and I believe that Council will continue to sprout whatever bullshit suits its purpose.

      Council holds the position of power due to Knight’s use of the casting vote to block any and all opposition, so even the vote on a motion to independently investigate dodgy practices would be defeated.
      Once again, with Sally Townley’s refusal to act in the interests of our (not her) community, it is Knight’s despicable behaviour which guides the course of events in my view.

      Come September.

  5. Unfortunately, It has become patently clear the pro-development councillors and the GM are so utterly determined to get this thing built come hell or high water, nothing is going to stand in their way. No community rejection; no feeble unenforced codes of conduct; no conflicts of interest; no insurmountable debt; no toothless state governing body; no democratic conventions; no statutory duty to act honestly; no degree of care and diligence; no lack of clarity or community confidence; and no self-refection or common decency.

    It’s all ‘fly by the seat’ stuff! That is, keep hammering at it until someone in authority tells you, you have to stop. But this cunning bunch are all too aware that their political masters are reticent at getting involved. Too afraid of being accused of interfering in local government democratic processes, and this bunch have taken full advantage of this anomaly. For example, you only need to look at Port Macquarie’s Glasshouse. Even though a large proportion of voices in the community had consistently rejected the proposal, the OLG only got involved and appointed an administrator after all the financial damage had been inflicted, leaving the community up to their eyeballs in debt. Can the Coffs Harbour expect the same outcome?

    It appears the only avenue left to the community to halt this idiocy is to sever the pro-development lobby from council at the September council election and cancel contracts already entered into to staunch the financial bleeding.

    1. A succinct and, unfortunately, all too accurate summation of our plight. CLB foreshadows an unavoidable repetition of the Port Macquarie debacle. Aside from maintaining the rage, there is little which we can do to prevent it.

      However, we can punish the miscreants who are responsible for it. Come September.

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