Proposed renovations – Prince Street, Grafton

Ed,

I refer to an open letter from Bill Day published on social media today. In Bill’s letter, he says, among other things:

“At the Corporate, Governance and Works committee meeting on 19 March, councillors agreed to allocate $6.3 million towards the renovation of council offices in Prince Street, Grafton.

General Manager, Ashley Lindsay, explained that community consultation had been ongoing since 2014.

Cr Peter Ellem said the project should come as no surprise and that council internal staff have to work in conditions that could best be described as rabbit warrens.

This Council should do the right thing and leave any decisions about “renovating” council offices to the councillors elected this coming September.”

These are all very good and pertinent points.  Bill also makes reference to several CVC properties which could serve as alternative accommodation for Council staff if the current premises are proving unsuitable.

Apart from anything else, I am not aware of any community consultation to date regarding this project.  Similarly, I have not spoken to anybody in the community who has known of CVC’s plans in this regard prior to reading the March meeting papers.

As Councillors will be well aware, the world is in the grip of an unprecedented and uncertain situation at the moment as it responds to the COVID-19 crisis.  In this current economic climate – local and otherwise – it would be grossly irresponsible to contemplate spending $6.3 million of CVC ratepayers’ money (plus huge likely unscheduled cost variations) on what appears to be a largely cosmetic renovation project.

I understand there may be a small amount of structural work that needs doing on the Prince Street building, but that should be ALL that is considered at this stage.  Basic, essential maintenance.

In fact, I would suggest that while we as a community are all in lockdown, and in view of the pending election, CVC should also be in caretaker mode.  Who knows what the future holds? It’s likely to be dire for many ratepayers struggling to keep their families fed.  I predict that the inevitable upcoming SRV, given the current shortfall in CVC’s Fit For The Future targets, may well be enough to send many of these local residents to the brink.

NOW is NOT the time! 

I urge all Councillors to consider suspending ALL non-urgent and non-essential spending and decisions until we are operating under more stable economic conditions.

Leigh Chiplin, Yamba