Council votes to withdraw Chambers from sale!

At the last scheduled meeting for the current council last night a motion was put to withdraw the Coffs Harbour City Council from sale pending the receipt of a scoping and feasibility report on the Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue (CHEV).

By The Editor

The motion, moved by Cr Denise Knight and seconded by Cr Tegan Swan, and reproduced as a screen shot from a computer below, was passed unanimously.

This means the Chambers, or Rigby House, cannot be sold before a new council is voted in on 4 September. So the proposed sale of these two properties becomes a matter for the new council to consider and ultimately, of course, how any cultural center in Gordon Street finally eventuates.

This is certainly a turn around from where the council was heading and came as quite a surprise to many, me included. Having said that though it is a result that is to be welcomed.

Council did vote 4-4 on the Westpac loan which was then passed on the Mayor’s casting vote.

However, we understand that a rescission motion may have been lodged after the meeting last night. If this is correct then an extraordinary meeting will have to be scheduled prior to 4 August when Council goes into caretaker mode.

The waste issue – has it become a big waste of our money?

Also last night Cr Sally Townley threatened to call the NSW Ombudsman to investigate the CHCC’s management of waste if council management did not deliver material asked for in a notice of motion (NOM) tabled last night by Cr Tegan Swan and herself.

Management had said in a written reply to the NOM that the information requested would be “impossible to deliver” and would require expending many staff resources.

Cr’s Townley and Swan called for more information on the issue including a list from 2018 of all negotiations, offers, tenders and current contracts between Council and Biomass, the EPA and also with the Bellingen and Nambucca Councils. An earlier CCO story on this can be found here; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/is-council-saying-waste-management-motion-of-notice-is-to-hard-to-comply-with/

Also it has come to public notice that on legal cases with Handybin and Biomass alone Council has spent $4.36m on legal costs.

This comes from a confidential briefing note (below) that Mick Raby presented on 26 May last. See; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/council-has-spent-4-36m-on-legal-costs-on-waste-management-cases-in-three-years/

CCO understands that there may be a number of issues with the amounts Mr Raby states were claimed by the two contractors and is investigating this further.

We can say though, as but one example only, that it is our understanding the amounts claimed for the ‘China Sword’ and Litter Bins may never have proceeded to arbitration.

8 thoughts on “Council votes to withdraw Chambers from sale!

  1. Great outcome and an opportunity for breathing space with the CCS. Here is hoping we can begin discussion on the long term fix for the waste issues now it is being brought to public knowledge. An opportunity exists for future councils to develop partnerships with other regional councils from Nambucca to Grafton to build a system that places the Mid North Coast as a leader in regional waste management. There are plenty of options. We move on. A quiet reprieve.

  2. I was “half wrong”, I’m pleased to say. Faced with the prospect of being hung in effigy, or in Gordon St., the Gang of Four went half way towards avoiding punishment for their gross misdeeds. Knight and Co did have a final twist of the knife, however, by trying to commit the next council to a debt which, given the now inevitable changes to the use of the CCS and the prospect of government funding for the cultural precinct, will not be needed.

    With respect to the waste management issues, a casual observer like myself could be forgiven for thinking that something is decidedly suspicious, when council officers can’t or won’t provide requested documentation detailing expenditure. From my position, once removed, I see a council responsibility which has been seriously mismanaged over a very long period of time.

    Our incoming council will have a daunting task ahead of them in sorting out the multiple messes created by the councils which have been led by Denise Knight.

  3. Well it sure looks like the massive outcry from the public screaming to not sell our chambers has moved the immovable, in doing so has left the back door ajar, to quote Randy Pausch “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game.

  4. A well-known local identity whose explanatory quip is now widespread goes as follows:

    “If you borrow $200,000 from a bank, you have a problem. If you borrow $20 million from a bank, the bank has a problem.”

    Hence the pleasure in renegotiating the end of loan to put the final full stop on this gasping idea that is the so-called CCS, if indeed the motion is not rescinded with a workable financial alternative to cover costs for the builder (and architect?) until the next council at an imminent extraordinary meeting. Unfortunately for the would-be developers in Council, they haven’t made solid enough their efforts in this term.

    By way of comparison: if you take the cost of only the interest on the current loan idea, at $38million, and add property sales, or another source of funding of $12million – ignoring for the fun of it all grant monies that would be eligible – your resultant spend of $50million obtains cultural facilities like this:

    https://www.corelogic.com.au/cordell/6877547

    With its Scoping Report by comparison here:
    https://issuu.com/shanefitzgerald/docs/nqac_scoping_report_final_draft_for

    Just as one, by example.

  5. Indeed a day to celebrate. The question is; does this ensure that we won’t face this sale yet again under the next Council? The future of this building, amid multiple vague speculations as to its potential use, is now in limbo with no secure future. As you say, it amounts to no more than leaving “…the back door ajar…”. It would be foolhardy to regard it as a resounding victory, when it may emerge as a strategic manoeuvre, “a red herring”, to placate the masses.

    In your card game analogy, the stakes will rise or fall on September 4 when our citizens mark their voting ticket. For two painful years, our citizens have not been heard on multiple issues, pending this one-and-only opportunity to make critical changes. Vote wisely, as we won’t get another chance to shape our future until our newly elected Council serves its term.

    For one day, the future of our city will rest in the hands of its citizens.

  6. Good old Shelly has stifled the political aspirations of the majority of the Coffs’ community yet again by delaying local government elections!

    Like this time, why didn’t she delay council elections for only three months last year instead of the twelve months she imposed? That would have given the voters an opportunity to elect new councillors while NSW was relatively Covid free. It would also have avoided the catastrophy we now find ourselves in as a result of the actions of Knight and cohort over the past 9 months in their haste to financially commit the community to the CCS madness.

    I’m not sure who’s more complicit in creating this mess and community anguish – Knight and co. or Hancock!

    Everyone should bombard Hancock’s Email inbox and demand that the caretaker period still commences on 4 August 2021, and continues up until her new election date. That’s the least she should do.

    Her Email address is: [email protected]

  7. Just like I have said before ” you can’t make this stuff up ” what else will pop up to make it harder to get rid of this destructive council , we have been banging our heads against the wall for at least two years now and all we have for it is a headache .

  8. More of a concern for me is how did Coffs coast outlook (sic) get hold of a confidential document.

    Editor: It should be a concern for Council too Toby.

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