Council remains split on Cultural and Civic Space progression

An Extraordinary Council Meeting held to halt the progression of the Cultural and Civic Space project has failed, with a previously approved Council motion to progress the project to stand. Photo: Coffs Harbour City Council.


AFTER another three hours of debating the progression of the controversial Cultural and Civic Space project to construction stage at Coffs Harbour City Council’s recent Extraordinary Meeting on Thursday 4 March, Council once again remained divided over the project.

A Rescission Motion was called by Cr Keith Rhoades, Cr Tegan Swan and Cr Paul Amos following Council’s Ordinary Meeting on 25 February where councillors were split four-four on the progression of the Cultural and Civic Space project to the Design and Construction stage, with Mayor Denise Knight using her casting vote to progress the project.

The passed motion was for Council to consider the Design and Construction lump sum offer received for the contract for Design and Construction Services for the Cultural and Civic Space Project, associated funding considerations and for Council to adopt recommendations made in a confidential report.

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Mayor Denise Knight was keen to hurry the Extraordinary Meeting along and enforced a strict five minute time limit for each councillor who stood up to debate the Rescission Motion, cutting councillor’s off as soon as their five minutes was up.

Much of the meeting’s debate centred around financial considerations to do with the Cultural and Civic Space project, with the opposing councillors calling to stall the project to seek a better deal, and the removal of acid sulfate soil from the site.

“For the money that we are spending we actually deserve something incredible,” Cr Tegan Swan said.

“Surely if we are going to spend the money we should get what we deserve, which is great cultural facilities for the community.

“We’re saying that there’s going to be no impact on levels of service, but we’re already reducing things.”

“I’m concerned about the cost of the borrowings for the project and the length of time that will add up to,” Cr John Arkan said.

Cr Keith Rhoades said Council had refused to acknowledge the current opposition of the community to the project.

Tony Judge, who is seeking election on the incoming Council in September, spoke against the Rescission Motion and likened the Cultural and Civic Space building to another important Australian building, Sydney’s Opera House.

“This is an incredibly important piece of infrastructure, it will reflect the way people see our town, it will affect the way we see ourselves, and it will affect our economy,” Mr Judge stressed to Council.

“All through this debate people have said ‘can we afford it?’

“Can we afford not to, can we afford not to give children, students a good library to study, can we afford them to miss that education opportunity?

“Can we afford to miss the economic opportunity of 350 jobs directly, and then all the jobs that come on top of those.”

Cr Sally Townley also spoke in support of the Cultural and Civic Space project’s progression.

“You can vote no to not have a $80 million dollar direct capital injection into the town,” Cr Townley said.

“You know that the contractor has agreed to have 55% local involved in the job.

“You can either embrace the project and all of the opportunities that come with that or you can vote no and stall this.”

Cr Michael Adendorff called on councillors to “enact” the Cultural and Civic Space project.

“I think it’s about time that we enact,” Cr Adendorff said.

“We enact a decision which is good for the whole of this region, we enact our Opera House.

“It’s so patently clear what the benefits are.”

After three hours of debate, councillors were once again split four-four on the Rescission Motion.

Crs Arkan, Amos, Swan and Rhoades voted for the Rescission Motion, and Crs Townley, Cecato, Knight and Adendorff voted against it.

Mayor Denise Knight did not need to use her casting vote with a Rescission Motion so it was declared lost, and the approved motion from Council’s Ordinary Meeting to proceed the Cultural and Civic Space project to the Design and Construction contract stage remains.



One thought on “Council remains split on Cultural and Civic Space progression

  1. Listen to the ratepayers who elected you. WE DONT WANT THIS GREEN MONSTROCITY. Build something near the Cartoon Gallery and use the money for road repairs, homeless and maintenance. If you do not listen you will lose the next election.

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