Friday, November 21, 2014

Asset sales may fund Willow Court works

SURPLUS land and buildings in the municipality may be sold as the Derwent Valley Council looks for ways to fund ongoing conservation and restoration works at Willow Court. The historic site in central New Norfolk was a topic of discussion for the final meeting of the council prior to last month's election and again at the first meeting of the new council last night.

The council last month resolved to apply to the Federal Government to have the site added to the National Heritage List and last night's meeting approved motions to prepare a list of all land and buildings owned by the council and have the council's Land Sale Committee review potential asset sales.

The meeting heard that the funds available for works at the former hospital site were almost exhausted and no new money was on the horizon. All councillors who spoke to the motion were in favour of the proposal, although newly-elected Councillor Frank Pearce attempted to bring forth an amendment to spread the distribution of the proceeds of any asset sales more broadly. Cr Pearce proposed directing some of the proceeds to capital works or cash reserves, but this lapsed for want of a seconder.

Cr James Graham said the intent of the motion, which had been proposed by Cr Damian Bester and seconded by Cr Graham, was to find a revenue stream for Willow Court. "Watering it down waters it down," Cr Graham said of the proposed amendment.

The meeting later appointed Councillors Julie Triffett, Frank Pearce, James Graham and Damian Bester to the Land Sale Committee.  Cr Bester said it would be important that committee's deliberations be held in public to avoid a repeat of the so-called "secret land sale" debate of a decade ago.

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