The decision by Singleton Council to investigate either the sale or lease of their livestock selling complex raises many questions.
Not least being the fact anyone interested in either buying or leasing the site has just three weeks to prepare and submit an expression of interest (EOI).
Who may we ask is likely to have say $10 million plus sitting in a bank account ready to buy a saleyards?
Probably no one therefore as part of the making a serious EIO you would need to get banks involved in funding and that takes time for them and the interested parties in finalising that funding – not something we could imagine achieved in a couple of weeks.
So if Council is serious about this investigation why such a short period of time for the EIO process. In addition to fund raising those interested in the facility will need to know all the costs involved in operating the saleyards.
With the $7.76m upgrade still a work in progress will the completed yards be more or less expensive to operate than the existing facility.
We have real concerns about the timing of this EIO process. Would it not have been better to do so before the upgrade and the Resources for Regions monies could have been spent on other projects likely to remain in the community’s hand for the foreseeable future – like the Riverside Park or John Street upgrade for example.
Council staff spent years working on the saleyards upgrade and then suddenly once it nears completion lets put the facility on the market.
It is a community asset and if the upgrade was not undertaken at that site Council may have been better to sell the Sedgefield land to developers and spending the Resources for Regions money on a greenfield site out of town which would have meant no semi-trailers carting livestock down Queen Street.
In fact they may have made some much needed revenue from this option while still retaining a community owned and popular selling facility.
Has selling our assets ever really worked – look no further than rising electricity costs for a short answer to that question.
When Council sought funding for the project the community was told it was a vital asset that boosted our local economy – so what has changed that it may now be sold and it’s future placed under a cloud?