Hulin seeks public meeting on saleyards issue

CITY councillor Peter Hulin wants a public meeting to address community concerns over the future of Warrnambool’s municipal saleyards which has been earmarked for closure.

On Monday night he will put a notice of motion to colleagues calling for a public forum in the Lighthouse Theatre to explain why the council is pressing ahead with a strategy to find a private enterprise entity to build and operate new saleyards within 40 kilometres of the city.

“This facility belongs to the people and they should have opportunity to put their views forward,” he told The Standard.

“A hell of a lot of businesses would be affected by moving the saleyards away — it’s a service that brings considerable money to our town.”

Cr Hulin said many in the farming and business communities had expressed concern at the speed which the council seemed to be pushing the issue.

Almost 300 people aired their concerns at a public meeting in October 2009 when the council addressed some of the 94 submissions lodged to an in-principle proposal to looking at closing the yards which have operated on Caramut Road for 40 years and hand the business to  a private operator to run elsewhere. 

Back then there had been a push by the Victorian Livestock Exchange company to build a $10 million-plus regional saleyards complex near Cudgee or  Garvoc.

Since then the company pulled out and the council decided to seek expressions of interest to build and operate a replacement saleyards within 20 kilometres of Warrnambool. 

Then last year the threshold was extended to 40 kilometres and a second call was made for expressions of interest resulting in the selection early this year of  Regional Infrastructure Proprietary Limited as the preferred proponent.

Stock agents again objected saying the yards should be kept on Caramut Road for as long as possible and run as an efficient municipal operation.

“The saleyards consistently make profits for Warrnambool City Council — about $350,000,” Cr Hulin said.

“All the other facilities we run bleed money,  but this one makes a profit yet we want to close it and move it.

“The value is in the site  — there’s  no urgency.”

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