DEBATE over the future of Warrnambool’s livestock exchange will spill over into tonight’s city council meeting with a motion calling on the preferred proponents to go it alone.
Less than a month after a large-scale council meeting staged at the Lighthouse Theatre, Cr Brian Kelson has again raised the contentious matter in a bid to “bring an end to the issue once and for all”.
The councillor has called on his colleagues to back a motion which would advise the council’s preferred developer Regional Infrastructure Proprietary Limited (RIPL) that the council would have no objection to the company establishing its own regional livestock exchange, even if it was in direct competition with the existing Caramut Road operation.
Cr Kelson said the motion would free the council from its relationship with RIPL, which he believed would be in the best interests of both parties.
“We need an end to the saleyards issue and this is the way to do it,” he said yesterday.
“The stock agents, allied businesses and the city as a whole want to keep the (municipal) saleyards and they want certainty that the council is going to back them. Councillors need to see that we have to end all this uncertainty because we as a council shouldn’t procrastinate further.”
A majority of councillors voted at the Lighthouse Theatre meeting for further community consultation over the future of the Caramut Road saleyards, following a campaign by Warrnambool Livestock Agents Association to retain the 40-year-old site.
The agents claim the saleyards are under renewed threat of closure due to council negotiations with RIPL, four years after an extraordinary meeting when councillors voted against any shutdown.
Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said the council had made no concrete decisions about closing the Caramut Road site or a potential suitor to take over livestock exchange operations.
“We’re in the middle of an expression of interest process and it’s in the best interests of council to continue with that process,” Cr Neoh said.
“There’s no need to cut across it.”