Council's saleyards search angers stock agents

WARRNAMBOOL stock agents are incensed that the city council is continuing with plans to shut down the city’s saleyards to seek commercial interest in building a new facility.

Warrnambool Stock Agents Association president Kieran Johnstone said there was nothing wrong with the existing saleyards that contributed about $300,000 each year to the council’s revenue.

“The agents will stick by it (the existing saleyards),” Mr Johnstone said.

He said a council-commissioned study a few years ago had found the saleyards generated about $13.6 million for Warrnambool’s economy each year.

“Why fix something that is not broken? We cannot understand why they (the council) would want to move it,” he said.

Mr Johnstone said efforts by the council in previous years to sell the saleyards had met with strong public opposition.

“We had a huge public meeting that filled the PAC (now the Lighthouse Theatre) a number of years ago,” he said.

That strong opposition had led the council to then drop plans to attract commercial interests to build a new saleyards close to Warrnambool.

Mr Johnstone said he had been contacted by many Warrnambool ratepayers concerned that the council had resumed its efforts to shift the saleyards away from the present Caramut Road site.

“If it (the council) wants to have another public forum, it had better book the MCG.

“There’s a lot of feedback coming to me from people who cannot see the sense in what the council wants.”

Mr Johnstone said Warr-nambool mayor Mike Neoh’s claim that livestock throughput at the saleyards had declined by 30 per cent over the past 10 years was based on a misleading comparison.

The drop in throughput was based on figures from a year when the saleyards had traded 110,000 animals during a drought when farmers from areas far away were destocking and selling through Warrnambool.

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