December 10th, 2021Just sayin’…
I get the feeling everyone is as stunned as I am about Hepburn Shire Council deciding, pretty randomly, to scrap the Hepburn Hub project at The Rex.
It’s not the scrapping of the project as much as losing around $6 million of ratepayers’ money in the process – with nothing to show for it. It’s also that this council was voted in last November very much on the basis of community engagement and consultation – talk about an epic fail just one year later.
The decision was made at its November meeting, done online and not in person, and with no heads up. In fact, the officer’s recommendation was for the project to proceed with a new builder.
And up until that point, no-one, and particularly the Daylesford Community Theatre committee and volunteers, had any idea what was coming. These are people who spent years building up a fabulous community asset at The Rex, and then more years in the wilderness waiting for their home to re-open.
What a kick in the teeth for these people to watch online as their “consultative” council decided to end their dream. They held their final AGM last week.
Newly annointed mayor Cr Tim Drylie, who voted in favour of continuing with the project, said in a media release that councillors realised some in the community would be disappointed.
Talk about an understatement. Even people who don’t give a rat’s arse about council are disappointed. And angry. At the waste of money and lack of consultation.
We are a small rural shire with a small ratepayer base that does not have the money to throw away $6 million – with nothing to show for it but a massive debt.
If we have about 11,000 ratepayers in the shire that is $545 that everyone must pay for this decision. For nothing.
And then it’s back to the drawing board to find somewhere else for much-needed council staff accommodation and the Daylesford Library. Either buying a greenfields site and starting from scratch or another building and probably renovating to make it fit for purpose.
So I really think it’s time to Rethink The Rex decision and put it back on the table. Yes, it will take another $6 million to finish the building but at least we have a work in progress with an end date sometime later next year. And we don’t lose $6 million. And we keep the cinema for the community. And have some public toilets on offer at the lower end of Vincent Street.
A new project would be years away. And for those years, council staff will continue to work in cramped and unsuitable conditions, the library will continue to lack the space it needs to service a growing community, locals and visitors will continue to look despairingly for much-needed public toilets (and let’s include a few for people with disabilities), and the cinema will cease to function.
Hepburn Shire councillors, I reckon you made the wrong decision, and so do many others. It’s time to get on with the job of communicating with and looking after your community.
Please Rethink The Rex. Just sayin’…