A COMMUNITY co-operative has been proposed to purchase and operate Warrnambool’s livestock saleyards rather than have it closed and replaced by a private-enterprise regional selling centre.
The idea will add further controversy to the issue and will be thrown open for discussion when Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell puts a notice of motion to the monthly meeting at Port Fairy this afternoon.
He will call for immediate community consultation to determine the importance of a regional saleyards, the best location and whether the rural and business sector would be prepared to invest money in running a livestock selling centre as a co-operative.
Cr Purcell told The Standard yesterday he and other Moyne councillors were contacted frequently by district residents concerned about the proposed future closure of Warrnambool City Council’s saleyards on Caramut Road.
Regional Infrastructure Pty Ltd (RIPL) is the selected proponent to build and operate a large new selling centre within 40 kilometres of the city boundary.
The city is yet to make a final decision on the closure date or future operations while RIPL has indicated it wants to manage the Warrnambool yards and Camperdown saleyards before deciding where to build.
“It’s too important an issue for Moyne Shire Council to sit back and say we don’t want to get involved,” Cr Purcell said.
“Rural industry is a major component of our region and we need to get the saleyards decision right.
“Our council has indicated earlier it would like to be involved in decisions, but unfortunately has been unsuccessful in attempts to hold discussions with the city council.”
He said he was confident several concerned residents would be prepared to invest in a co-operative enterprise.
“But we would first need to determine if the city council was prepared to sell its saleyards,” he said.
“It would be a commercial deal purchased on current valuations. That may be a solution to the issue.”
Cr Purcell said the possibility of Moyne council investing in a saleyards venture had not yet been discussed and there had not been a formal approach from the local stock agents association or RIPL.
“We envisage having initial community meetings in Koroit and Mortlake and a survey to help us know what people think,” he said.
“Either the yards should stay where they are or move and if moved where would the best location be.
“Agents say 80 per cent of cattle come from west and north of Warrnambool.
“Arguments have been put up about difficulties in waste control at the Caramut Road yards, but there are ways of handling that properly.
“And having saleyards near a residential area is not unique.”