UPDATE, Tuesday, 8.30am:
Warrnambool City Council says an inspection on the Warrnambool saleyards is ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of January.
Inspections were organised after the collapse of a section of concrete walkway in October while a dozen people were standing on it during a cattle sale.
Witnesses described the collapse as being "like an earthquake". No one was injured.
The incident has also led to a review of the whole saleyards by council officers under the watchful eye of WorkSafe officials.
Councillors have briefings next week but it is not known at this stage if the saleyards will be on the agenda.
It is expected that a report will be prepared for councillors before discussion and any decision is made on the future of the yards.
The yards, officially known as the South-West Victorian Livestock Exchange, puts through about seven percent of all livestock sold in yards across Victoria last year.
It's understood that throughput figures for Warrnambool in 2020 are up almost 10 per cent.
However, a casual inspection of the yards in the past fortnight revealed much of the original yards are in a "worn" condition and bringing them up to current standards would require a significant investment.
Sale of the current site would be expected to net the council about $10 million.
The yards are currently operating without public access to the concrete walkways in a special arrangement with WorkSafe.
That arrangement has been in place since the October collapse.
Environment Protection Authority officials have inspected the Warrnambool saleyards site at the invitation of the Warrnambool City Council.
The inspection took place in late November and it can now be revealed that authority officials found no pollution problems.
"They are managing it OK and we are aware of the situation at the saleyards," an insider said.
The all-clear from EPA will be welcome by supporters of the saleyards while WorkSafe continues to conduct its enquiries.
An initial investigation was sparked after the collapse of a section of concrete walkway in October while a dozen people were standing on it during a cattle sale.
Witnesses described the collapse as being "like an earthquake".
The incident has also led to a review of the whole saleyards by the authority.
Work was to start last week clearing away 400 metres of walkways, which will have to be replaced at a cost of more than $500,000.
New Warrnambool councillor Ben Blain, who has recently joined the saleyards committee, previously said the council would review investigation reports before making any decisions on the future of the yards.
Former Warrnambool City Council chief executive officer Bruce Anson believes the the long-term viability of the saleyards existing site should be considered.
He's pushing for the site, which was previously valued at $10 million, to be sold.
Mr Anson said the sale of the Warrnambool Livestock Exchange site would provide the new Warrnambool council with an opportunity to focus on its priorities, and fund those plans.
Last week it was revealed that annual depreciation of $175,000 was not included in figures released by the council.
The depreciation more than halved the Warrnambool saleyards profit for the past five years.
Wednesday, December 9:
The application of a usual accounting practice would see the Warrnambool saleyards profit for the past five years slashed by more than half.
Figures provided by the Warrnambool City Council last week were noted to be for actual profit - and did not include depreciation.
After additional questions, a council spokesman has revealed the depreciation figure for the Warrnambool livestock exchange is about $175,000 annually.
Depreciation is a systematic process for spreading the cost of an asset that is used in a business which will not last forever.
It is particularly relevant in discussions about the future of the Warrnambool saleyards after the collapse of a cement walkway is expected to cost more than $500,000 to replace.
That's led to at least five investigations by relevant authorities.
New Warrnambool councillor Ben Blain, who has joined the saleyards committee, said last week the council would review investigation reports before making any decisions on the future of the yards.
At an annual cost of $175,000 depreciation, the Warrnambool saleyards profit is reduced from $1.57 million in the past five years to about $700,000 - dropping 55 per cent.
In fact, the saleyards would have made a $35,000 loss in the 2017-18 financial year.
Questions have also been raised about whether the Warrnambool council allocates other costs - such as management costs, human resources, percentage of the relevant director's salary and other costs such as general insurance.
The revelations add further weight to calls from former council chief executive officer Bruce Anson for the yards to be sold, which were previously valued at up to $10 million.
It's understood that the commercial value of a housing development on the saleyards site could be worth up to $30 million.
Friday, December 4: Will a section of crumbling concrete walkway at Warrnambool's saleyards be the demise of the facility?
The yards, now named South West Victorian Livestock Exchange, were moved to the Caramut Road site in 1971 after being previously situated at Swan Reserve, alongside Raglan Parade and a stone's throw from the main street.
But almost 50 years on, former Warrnambool City Council chief executive officer Bruce Anson believes it is time to have a debate about the yards' future at the existing site.
He said the collapse of a section of concrete walkway in October was a trigger event that should at least prompt a look at the long-term viability of the saleyards, the cost of any repairs and what could be done with about $10 million for Warrnambool's development if the saleyards site was sold.
A number of investigations are now being conducted into the 1970s saleyards design and infrastructure saleyards by the council, WorkSafe and the Environment Protection Authority.
"I'm just suggesting the new council take the opportunity to look at the current situation and if appropriate consider how they would like to invest that money," Mr Anson said.
"It's not for me tell the new council what to do - far from it. But, the council fill other roles that are not provided by private enterprise, such as sporting facilities.
"Councils previously ran saleyards, but that's not the case any more."
Mr Anson said a report was prepared by the council in 2010-12 to look at the future of the yards and despite a pitch to sell, which would have opened up development of residential land on Rooneys Road, the yards remained operating.
But, he said now with B-double trucks, reasonable roads and the new Mortlake stock exchange in place, it was time for another look at the issue.
"I understand the locals may not want to go to Mortlake. We previously proposed Cudgee, but that didn't happen," he said.
"My view and the previous council report was that the yards at the current Caramut Road site should be sold," he said.
"There are only three per cent of the cattle sold through the yards from the Warrnambool City Council municipal area.
"And the land was previously valued at between $7 million and $10 million."
Mr Anson said it was usual practise for state and federal governments to retire assets and invest in new assets.
"That view has been consistent," he said.
"There's also a top grade facility operating at Mortlake as well as other predominantly cattle sales at Camperdown and Colac, competing with Warrnambool.
"Then there's yards at Ballarat and Mount Gambier while the Hamilton market mostly caters for sheep."
Mr Anson said the sale of the Warrnambool Livestock Exchange site would provide the new council with an opportunity to focus on its priorities, and fund those plans.
"The asset can be realised and invested in what the community really want," he said.
"It could upgrade of sports facilities. Reid Oval is a wonderful development, but what about the Friendly Societies' Park, other grounds and assets like Merrivale.
"There's an enormous amount that could be done with between $7 million and $10 million."
The former council CEO said it was time for a rethink.
"The saleyards were relocated in 1971 from Swan Reserve. We now have the opportunity to consider what do we really want to invest in," Mr Anson said.
"It's a view I've held for some time. Regionalisation was previously considered. One big saleyards would be expected to bring about efficiencies, reduce costs and be financially successful.
"Mortlake has cutting edge technology in the design of their yards, soft floors, rooves - to meet the changing attitudes to stock welfare.
"In the past there was a lot of pressure from agents in Warrnambool but I still think regionalisation must happen.
"The current asset is extremely old and tired - it's time for a rethink."
Mr Anson said that due to the concrete walkway collapse it was appropriate to reconsider alternative uses for the site.
"A major role of council is to maintain community assets and invest in new community facilities," he said.
"The sale of the saleyards site would enable the new council to look at what it wants to achieve in terms of capital plans.
"If big investments are required to maintain the current yards then it is time to consider the options, see what is proposed and weigh up the costs and then look at the potential benefits of a sale," he said.
A council spokesman said demolition of the old concrete walkways would begin on Monday.
"And this will create short-term 'at grade' access," he said.
"Council will consider options to replace the walkways in 2021. Costs have yet to be determined."
On council figures, the saleyards has made a $1.57 million in the past five years.
Warrnambool Livestock Agents Association president Jack Kelly said the saleyards were the last public facility run by the council making a profit.
"Everything else is not," he said.
"I'm very glad Bruce Anson has gone from his position and we always have to look forward.
"We are 110 per cent behind the ongoing operation of the saleyards at Warrnambool."
Mr Kelly said last week that more than 4000 head of stock were yarded for two sales with cattle going to South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
"Those numbers speak for themselves. The yards here are very, very viable," he said.
The agents chief said the last time the council considered selling the yards there was a tremendous push-back.
"The last time they tried to shut it there was a huge public response at the town hall and there's still enormous support," Mr Kelly said.
"It's a big boost to this area. It's great to see livestock producers getting paid for their article," he said.
New Warrnambool Mayor Vicki Jellie has been given an opportunity to comment on the issue, but referred questions to councillor Ben Blain, who is joining the Warrnambool saleyards committee.
Mr Blain said the future of the saleyards, including any potential works, would be discussed by the council in coming months.
"There's a number of reviews going on about the saleyards. We'll wait to see those reports, assess all the information and then make a decision," he said.
Western Victorian Livestock Exchange business development manager Colin Ryan said cattle sold at Mortlake, were consigned from Geelong , Mount Gambier, Hamilton, Ararat, Ballarat district and everywhere in between.
"We even had a consignment of weaners from King Island this year. There is absolutely no reason why cattle from Nirranda or Koroit should not be sold at Mortlake. To suggest otherwise is false," he said.
"Mortlake Livestock Exchange has cost $17 million to build to the required standards.
"I know obviously how local government works. Warrnambool's seven new councillors have some important finance decisions to make on behalf of their rate payers - Do they spend a very large amount of money on a facility that is now not required?
"Agents from Warrnambool,Camperdown,Colac, Geelong, and Hamilton sell at Mortlake. There are only two agents from Warrnambool who don't.
"Mortlake Livestock exchange is a world-class livestock selling facility.
"It is fast becoming the leading selling centre in this region. Recent store sales have had regular numbers of between 5000 to 6000, numbers unheard of in this region."
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