From the Newsroom

VIC sale details – Tiley responds

Geoff Helisma


At the February 22 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, councillors unanimously resolved to “be provided, in confidence, with full details of the contract sale” of the former visitor information centre (VIC) at South Grafton; however, as of Monday March 7, the information had not been provided.

Mayor Ian Tiley said the AGM, Laura Black, had “indicated she was going to get legal advice” regarding providing the sale’s details to councillors.

Cr Tiley said he had “concerns that the contracts for sale were not exchanged until early February”, well after the December 4 election.

The Independent, which reported details of the sale in the February 23 story, ‘VIC sold for undisclosed amount’, spoke with the Cr Tiley about the sale.

Geoff Helisma: I couldn’t find any public decision delegating senior staff the power to sell the VIC without consulting councillors.

Mayor Ian Tiley: The acting general manager has sent that resolution to me; it was in June 2019, [which stated that council; 1. Not accept the offer for purchase of Lot 2 DP 839420 dated 7 June 2019; 2. Provide a counter offer to the potential purchaser in accordance with the confidential attachment; and, 3. Amend the reserve price if the counter offer is not accepted, as detailed in the confidential attachment].

GH: However, regarding the settlement of the VIC’s sale, councillors supported Bill Day’s request, to be shown the full details of the contract sale, which are currently confidential. Has that happened?

IT: No, it hasn’t happened. The acting general manager indicated she was going to get legal advice as to whether she could release that information.

I have concerns that the contracts for sale were not exchanged until early February.

And, the amount of the sale? We [councillors] don’t know. That’s, I think, a legacy from the past.

My strong view is that the council[lors], only, can sell assets and we should know the sale price and other sale particulars, perhaps in confidence until the sale is concluded.

GH: Given that the property market has grown exponentially since June 2019, and that the 2019 decision repeated the April 2018 listed price of $1.2million (plus GST), in your opinion is it appropriate if a deal was made based on the $1.2million valuation of four years ago?

IT: Clearly, the property market has indeed jumped leaps and bounds since the former councillors’ decision to sell the VIC.

I feel it would have been prudent, given that the sale was a contentious election issue, to not take any further action to sell until the incoming council was fully briefed.

GH: Is there anything you can do to stop the sale?

IT: The AGM advised councillors on February 12 that the VIC was sold. To reverse that would potentially make CVC breach the contract and incur considerable costs.

GH: There was a disagreement between councillors Toms and Day regarding where the sale money would end up. The AGM said she would check, but said, judging by past allocations it would probably be the strategic building fund. So where will that money go and what will it be used for?

IT: Sales of council assets go into the strategic building fund, and we’ve obviously got a number of priorities. For example, we’ve got $5 million to upgrade the Maclean civic precinct, [but I’m] hearing that the estimated cost is at least $9 million. So that would be one option, but there are, no doubt, many others.