Council votes for report into implications of removing administration offices from Gordon Street

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

In response to a motion recommending Councillors approve the GM to negotiate the sale of the Castle Street Chambers, Rigby House, the Museum and the CHCC property in Rose Avenue a new motion was put as follows;

Moved by Cr. Townley, seconded by Cr. Swan. Voted for unanimously.

The motion, passed unanimously, was moved by Cr Townley, second left, and Cr Swan (third right).


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)

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.

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)

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

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

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.

Editors note: An outbreak of sanity and bi-partisanship? Is it possible there is some link between the above motion, as welcome as it is, and the ‘Clayton’s Clause’ on Council Administration that went through State Parliament unsuccessfully this week?

8 thoughts on “Council votes for report into implications of removing administration offices from Gordon Street

  1. “Community and/or commercial uses?” Hmmmmm! I hope we don’t end up with more empty spaces in our CBD.

    Maybe our Mayor will revisit her original campaign promises?

  2. Note to self: word this comment carefully so it isn’t defammatory.

    Where we are at, at present, with the CCC highlights a couple of interesting things about both “our lovely Mayor” (sic)[Swan] and taking a postiion – or setting yourself up in a position – on an issue.

    In my opinion, “our lovely Mayor” (sic)[Swan] clearly has a drive to deliver a cultural centre for Coffs and set herself in the public mind to do so. Her drive, however, in my opinion lacks the extra intellect points that would produce a result that such a centre should engender within a willing and waiting community: a centre to be proud of, and welcomed by all but an uninterested or impossible-to-please handful. Councils have delivered results to this happy extent in places and times other than ours.

    Therefore she has been unable to see the position into which she’s moved. To my eyes, she has provided nothing more than simplistic “reasoning” such that detailed and considered reasoning is no major part of this process – though of course it all those things to her. “Our lovely Mayor” (sic)[Swan] to my eyes runs more on instinct and emotion. She has therefore arrived at a position built not on detailed and good reason, and certainly hasn’t expressed anything of the sort. This comes back to the interesting situation of ‘position-based’ standpoint in a negotiation. She’s taken a ‘position’.

    Contrast that with a standpoint based on reasoning. The difference is that the holder can move more freely, because reasoning is the currency, and good or better reasons can be far more readily taken.

    Not so for Denise. She’s stuck in this spot of hold-fast to the current CCC, she’s done it fervently, emotively hard-fast in the public eye; indeed, she’s used the public forum in various media to achieve this very spot.

    So it’s hard for her to move. She loses face if a good or better reason comes along – she can’t so readily take it. Unfortunately, this is tied to that way of position-based thinking, too, because she can in fact completely alter course if she were possessed of the ability to do it effectively and in public. But she can’t. We have therefore a Mayor whose actions, as she regards them, can only be diluted and affected in bits and pieces, cut by cut. Give a bit here, a bit there. (Being careful to take a “bit here” in my opinion too, because her public face is integral to her role.)

    It’s a clear lesson in how not to develop and present a project. It’s also difficult and unfortunate to publicly affect, without a drastic or strong action (such as Ministerial legislation, shockjock attack, etc).

    So it seems it’s going to be death by a thousand cuts. This is going to drag on. When a decision and forthcoming project is plagued like this, from the very start, it’s a dud all the way.

    It’ll be one problem after another, nothing will go smoothly, and if it ever does get over the line it’ll be at horrific expense to the finances, public will, chances of a better one lost for fifty years, expense in national standing, and personal expense for a long, long time for “our lovely Mayor” (sic)[Swan].

    Denise Knight may well come to see reason, as the problems and obstacles keep on coming, and stop the whole thing, taking the positives into a new and better grounded direction. If she had the intellectual wherewithal she could do that and come out in front.

    But it looks, at this point, that the only chance of this thing getting wiped and replaced with a far better option is for the weight and effect of one obstacle after another becoming too much. It seems fair to think she won’t be around for that point, if it comes, with the realisation and thoughtful decision to stop and reshape then going to someone else.

  3. I am desperately hoping that PedestalFan’s prediction will come true. The “Palace Affair” has, for many months, been about the wielding of power and the preservation of ego, rather than its initial aim of providing a service for Coffs Harbour.
    Knight, with the assistance, and perhaps at the instigation, of others, has painted herself into a very tight corner, from which she may be unable to see a “face-saving” escape route.
    I would caution against seeing last night’s resolution solely as a win for common sense, or as a first step in the process of undoing the damage which has been done by this saga. Rather than taking heed of the warning which was most clumsily delivered by the failed legislation against council spending, it is just as likely that Knight’s group will take heart from Hancock’s failure to deliver on legislation to halt the project, and, perceiving this as a weakness in the opposition, press on regardless.

  4. There are two issues to keep an eye on here people.

    Clause 6 of the resolution last night to review financials for CCC has a ‘sting in the tail’. It seems to suggest the building goes ahead as per the current design. In the interim other uses might be found for the space and new financing arranged. This will not alter the building costs. Moreover it is another level of cost to be added in.

    The ‘sting’, as I see it, is as follows. After some “reasonable” time elapses the council will find a reason to occupy the space anyway. It will be ready made for them.

    It could all be a big ‘con’ albeit possibly an unwitting one?

    I believe we must also keep an eye on the relocation of the museum – state government might want a say in this given what they are proposing for the foreshore area around the Jetty.

    On another matter the budget for last year allocated sums to various activities and functions. The allocation would include the wage component but if I am reading the position correctly our council recently applied for Jobkeeper assistance. Is this two bites of the cherry?

    Residents have given funds for the cost and council now wants a “top-up”. What does council intend to do with any amount received under the new scheme? It already has funds to pay the workers (budget vote out of the general fund).

    If council has suspended the work does this also include super and other entitlements?

    Something seems a bit odd in my opinion.

  5. I concur with Rob and Julian and appreciate their insights.

    It came across last night, exemplified by Cr Swan’s exuberant, almost exulting high-school-like celebration of their being a team and doing so, so well together, aren’t we team, yay, that amongst the opproprium they’ve brought on this project they had to be seen to give a bit.

    Gawd it was tedious, that meeting. One person, Cr Amos, only, was able to speak to a point and keep it. Cr Swan’s time in the chair was sickening, frankly. And I don’t get the ‘team’ imperative. Are they supposed to be all of one mind, one heart, or something? Yay team!

    No, it was a Council under fire and knew it, and felt it had to go all warm and fuzzy for us. I felt no strength in their vote to review, no conviction – nothing that could generate trust. In fact I agree with Julian in that they’d earlier erroneously seen the Minister’s legislative knockback as a personal or factional win, couldn’t gloat, had to be all team and community, listening, listening, look the part, and I thought it was a display that served mostly to embarrass the lot of us. It’s not a well-rounded, notable assemblage and I expect it’s headed for trouble.

  6. I’m Sick of this ”Its All About ‘them’ it should be about ‘us’ the Ratepayers”.

    And to be sure to be sure, after its built, the Council Staff will move in.

  7. I too was embarrased and angry at the performance of Cr Swan at Thursday’s Council meeting. If going on like a 14 year old is the new norm for Council debate we are in a very deep hole in as far as local politics is concerned.

  8. If it’s true that we get the politicians which we deserve, what the hell have we done, or failed to do, to end up with some of the individuals on our council?

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