Local, Politics

Divided Council vote to commit to 30 year loans for Gordon Street now ‘on hold’

After more than three hours of debate and questions, future plans for the Cultural & Civic Space is no closer to being finalised today.

By Triple M Coffs Coast

In front of a full gallery, with standing room only last night, Councillors debated 3 separate motions before finally returning to the original recommendation to move forward with the detailed design and construction, approving the full funding of $76,520,000.

The proposed building in Gordon Street

While the final vote saw Councillors divided 4-4, the Mayor said she took great delight in using her casting vote to support the motion.

However, in a turn of the tables a rescission motion has been lodged by a number of Councillors to the General Manager which now puts last night’s decision on hold.

Earlier in the night, two people from the public spoke for the motion, while one spoke against. There was some concern after one member of the public listed to speak against was not present. That later lead to an email to Council claiming that the member did not receive confirmation from Council to speak.

The Coffs Coast Outlook has seen this email and will publish it early next week.

Local Ann Leonard spoke against the current project, commending Cr Tegan Swan for using social media platforms and local business people for speaking up about their concerns.

“There is no man or woman in this room who wouldn’t agree that we need more cultural facilities”, Mrs Leonard (pictured below) said.

Ann Leonard spoke against the motion to fund $75.6m for Gordon Street

However she questioned whether Council can confirm that there will be no budget blowout, and that traffic flow and parking has been addressed appropriately.

Members of the gallery applauded when she mentioned that the key part missing from the project was a performance/entertainment space.

Caitlin Zugajev spoke for the project on behalf of the youth of Coffs Harbour, saying that it will rejuvenate our city.

When asked by Cr Rhoades if the youth of Coffs Harbour would support the project without the Council Administration Building included, she responded, “Absolutely”.

C.ex Group CEO, John Rafferty, spoke for the project, revealing that they are planning to build an entertainment centre. He said that he would not however support the project without the council administration building integrated into the new facility.

In the opening discussions, Mayor Denise Knight said, “Have we done our homework, yes we have”.

Cr Knight encouraged all Councillors to vote for the motion in its entirety.

“Some if you will not agree, some people will not like it, and I respect that”.

Cr Keith Rhoades offered an amendment to support the new facility housing a library, art gallery and museum, while calling on council to remove the Castle Street Administration Building from the plans, with the intention to investigate adding an additional level to the existing Council building.

“Do I support a new library, yes I do. Do I support a new art gallery, yes I do. Do I support a new museum, yes I do”. But when saying he did not support the council administration in the project, it was backed by cheering from the gallery.

“We’ve never been given the opportunity to look at the project without the council administration in it”.

“Let’s take a deep breath”, Cr Rhoades said.

His amendment was also asking for an immediate start to re-costing and redesigning the proposed new building, while also investigating the option of an entertainment and performing centre.

Councillor Michael Adendorff was not in support of Cr Rhoades’ amendment, comparing the move of all council staff to one building, to “buying all the fish in a fish tank from the start”.

Cr Rhoades’ amendment was not carried after the mayor’s casting vote resulted in it’s loss.

Two further amendments were raised and lost.

Mayor Knight has used her casting vote to approve the centre.

Councillors Townley, Cecato, Adendorff and Knight voted in favour of the motion. Councillors Amos, Arkan, Rhodes and Swan voted against it. This meant the vote was 4-4. As it was a tie mayor Knight had a casting vote.

While many left the gallery with the understanding that the project will progress to the next stage, the final outcome is yet to be known possibly until the next meeting in a fortnight.

First published at Triple M Coffs Coast – Thursday 11 July 2019. See: https://www.triplem.com.au/story/coffs-harbour-cultural-civic-space-not-done-deal-142734

A link to former MP Andrew Fraser’s discussion with Moffee on Triple M about the above meeting can be found here: https://omny.fm/shows/triple-m-coffs-breakfast/andrew-fraser-calls-to-have-a-say-about-cultural-a

Editors note – 12 July; Outlook understands there are concerns about time limits given to speakers at the meeting last night and that they did not appear to be equitable nor in the opinion of some seem to follow precedent for speakers to motions in previous meetings.

We have seen the email from the ‘scheduled speaker’ and we plan to publish it here early next week.

The headline to this story refers to the discussion in the Council Chambers last night wherein it was revealed the Council hopes to raise a 30 year loan for the building.

Articles on what this may mean for ratepayers and other aspects pertaining to the Gordon Street proposal will appear over the next two weeks leading up to the next Council meeting.

Outlook also understands the meeting last night was told any needed roadworks for Gordon Street, which could be substantial, have not been included in the $76.5 million estimated cost.


  1. Riki Bekker

    “Outlook also understands the meeting last night was told any needed roadworks for Gordon Street, which could be substantial, have not been included in the $76.5 million estimated cost.”

    Really?! Who is running this ‘clown show’?

    That could be at least another $10-12m right there knowing this mob’s predilection for Project mis-Management. I mean isn’t this just basic stuff? You know Project Management 101?

    It’s time for an appointed Administrator to be parachuted into the Coffs Harbour Council I’m starting to think.

  2. How wrong and inappropriate is it for Mayor Knight and General Manager Mr McGrath to handover to the Cex Club what appears exclusivity in providing “THE” Centre for Entertainment in Coffs Harbour ?

    This is NOT what all we people, young and old, who this week took to Social Media want in expressing our desire for an entertainment centre for multi use. IE. a venue with 500+ seating capacity plus a near stage mosh pit for we young rockers. This what we half expected.

    Additionally our Council is presumed to be won over by the promise of a new hotel to be constructed by the Cex Club.

    Ya gotta wonder if Cex, the Chamber of Commerce, the General Manager and the Mayor seek totalitarianism and to simply dictate between them what’s to be served up to the Community. Me thinks this little collaboration takes everyone for fools.

    Hopefully there’s a shakeup about to happen in Coffs Council so we can get on and build a city for everyone.

  3. Riki Bekker

    Spot on Tatiana. Well said.

    In my opinion an elite little club made up of The Mayor, the Council GM Steve McGrath, Councillors Addendorf (a CBD property owner apparently) and Ceccatto, the Cex Club, and some executive members of the Chamber of Commerce/FLOT Club think our rates are theirs to do with as they like and ‘to hell with the rest of us’.

    It’s time to ‘get the pitchforks out’ folks! Metaphorically speaking of course 😉

  4. Bonnie Capell

    I’m curious about where the CEX Entertainment Centre will be. What kind of facilities? Will parents taking their kids to concerts and Eieisteddfods have to run the gauntlet of the pokies and bars? What kind of parking allowance and traffic management will be put in place if it is to be in town? This information is very relevant to all.
    For the CEX to simply announce last Thursday that they would build an entertainment centre – the inference being that we didn’t need to worry about that aspect of the cultural space argument was out of place -that information should have been made public knowledge prior to the discussion AND more details, please.
    There is a huge need for our councilors to understand that the brewing discontent over this building is not going to go away. And the brushing off of queries where we are told information is “commercial in confidence” contributes to the perceived lack of transparency, resulting in a growing sense of distrust. The lack of costings for road and car parking infrastructure also needs to be discussed. These figures will add a hefty price tag to the ever-growing bottom line. I believe that further discussion is required.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *