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Paperwork bungle means no new stables

Maclean Show Society president Brian Ferrie is disappointed ageing stables won’t be replaced because of an alleged paperwork failure by Clarence Valley Council. Image: Lynne Mowbray.

Josh McMahon

Maclean Showground won’t get much-needed new stables because of an alleged paperwork error by Clarence Valley Council.
The council has missed out on a $62,000 Public Reserve Management Funding grant because of failure to submit a project report from a previous round, according to the Department of Industry – Crown Lands and Water.

“Clarence Valley Council received a previous grant in 2016-17 for a weed eradication project at Mountain View Park Reserve. At the time of their application for 2017-18 funding, the council had not submitted its final report for the previous project as is required,” a spokesperson for the department said.

“If such a report is not submitted at the time of a new application, the application is ineligible for funding.

“There are strict eligibility requirements for funding – which all applicants are aware of – to ensure the integrity of the application process and appropriate governance of public funds.”

Clarence Valley Council has refused to comment, despite repeated phone calls and questions emailed to its communications manager, for Director Works and Civil Troy Anderson.

Further, the department itself has issued a formal apology, after it incorrectly informed council and the Show Society that it had been successful in its grant application.

Maclean Show Society president Brian Ferrie was left scratching his head in the confusion.

Mr Ferrie was celebrating when at 12.30pm August 25 he received an email from the department stating, “Your application for support through the 2017-18 Public Reserves Management Fund Program (PRMFP) has been successful. You should shortly be receiving a formal letter of offer from The Hon Paul Toole MP, Minister for Lands and Forestry”.

Joy turned to confusion when just hours later, at 4pm, the same department staffer emailed him to say, “It has come to my attention that some people have received the following email in error. Please await receipt of the official letter/s advising whether your particular application/s were successful or not before attempting further action. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Determined to get to the bottom of what was going on, Mr Ferrie pushed for answers. He was then told the grant wasn’t successful because council had an outstanding report in relation to weed control at Mountain View Park.

“It’s pretty disappointing – because council hasn’t signed off on a weeds spray report we didn’t get anything for Maclean Showground,” Mr Ferrie said.

The Show Society president said he believed the department should review its rules, as it didn’t make sense for Maclean Showground to suffer because of something that related to another location.

Pony Club member Keltie Foster said the dilapidated stables at the showgrounds were dangerous, and numbers at major events were dwindling because of the poor facilities. Ms Foster said the recent two-day zone jamboree attracted just 90 competitors instead of the usual 130, with negative feedback reported to her about the stables.

“It’s a bit embarrassing when your facilities are falling down,” she said.
“It’s frustrating when we just want safe facilities for our kids.”

The Clarence Valley Independent will continue this week to push for an explanation from Clarence Valley Council.

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