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Your Say

January 27th, 2022Your Say

Why I voted "No" to selling The Rex - Cr Jen Bray. At the November council meeting the 4-3 decision to halt the Hepburn Hub at The Rex project, and sell the building, has sent shockwaves through the Hepburn community.

Hepburn Hub at The Rex

Why I voted “No” to selling The Rex – Cr Jen Bray.
At the November council meeting the 4-3 decision to halt the Hepburn Hub at The Rex project, and sell the building, has sent shockwaves through the Hepburn community.
Already frustrated by delays and cost blowouts, local residents are in disbelief at the news that the Hub they have been waiting over six years for has suddenly been scrapped.
As a councillor I have received 35 formal letters of complaint on council’s failure to conduct any community engagement prior to this decision or even inform the community that this might be on the cards.
For constituents who elected this council primarily on its promise of better consultation, this has, not surprisingly, come as a shock.


I do not believe it makes wise financial sense to sell this asset now. Having invested so much, it’s a lose-lose situation. Council will be left with an actual $6 million debt with no asset. The proposed $15 million for the project will be similar wherever this Hub is built. Except that we will be starting $6 million in debt.
Council now has no plan and no idea where we will be putting the Hub to accommodate community spaces, library, cinema, council offices and public toilets. We have no costings, no review of potential sites, no assessment of what we currently need for staff accommodation, and no community input.
Yet, this council has committed to selling The Rex before assessing all the options for a future Hub site.
Why do we need a Hub anyway?
Council began consulting with community about a Hub back in 2014. There was need for indoor community spaces, a bigger library to serve our growing population, central public toilets, and consolidated council offices to make them more efficient, compliant and provide better disability access.
When The Rex was bought in 2016, the local volunteer-run community cinema looked like losing its home, so council guaranteed it would provide an auditorium in the new Rex Hub building which the cinema could lease. A promise now broken.


The Rex project has been fraught over the past five years with delays, expanding budgets and a Local Government Inspectorate investigation yet to be made public. There have been divided views on the project, and community frustration has been understandable.
But I have heard loud and clear that this community needs a space to connect. Somewhere indoors out of the freezing rain and searing heat. The Rex would have provided a stunning new library in a beautiful historic building.
The cinema would bring entertainment and build social connection between our volunteers, youth, older members and young families. We would have central public toilets, and accessible council services. The Rex would become more than a hub – it could be the heart of this town.
To continue with this project – I propose we do what council should have done from the start.
Consult the community.
Maybe if we ask people what they want, we as a council can be guided to make better decisions in the interests of all our community.

Hepburn Shire Council Deputy Mayor and Councillor Jen Bray
(jbray@hepburn.vic.gov.au)

Letters to the editor are always welcome at The Local.
Keep them to the point and local.
Email news@tlnews.com.au Any addressed Dear Sir will be deleted.



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