May 13th, 2022Your Say – Letters
Rex consultation too quick: Hepburn Shire Council officers were directed by councillors to design The Rex community consultation in November 2021.
he process was announced on April 27, 2022 via the Hepburn Shire website with responses required by May 20. This is less than a month for responses whereas council took five months to design the process.
The information provided by council does not include the possibilities that have already been suggested to council such as subdivision, selling with conditions for community use for part of the building, selling with conditions around leasing part of the building for community use and private sale of part of the building to pay for or contribute to the cost of redevelopment of the community part of the building.
The information does not include possible community use of the building other than those included in the original Hepburn Hub concept.
Further, the information is inaccurate as it does not include the council plan to include the cinema which although not included in the original plan for The Rex was quickly included as a result of a huge community outcry.
A radically altered plan for the building with the community space excluding the back area which has problems with damp and drainage will be significantly less costly than the original council plan. Therefore the figures given are not relevant if the community space redevelopment is confined to the front part of the building.
The responses sought do not include an option for people to recommend halting the sale pending further exploration of the viability of alternatives currently being explored.
Had the consultation been co-designed as requested by the Rethink the Rex group this option would have been included. It appears this questionnaire has been developed to produce the answer council is seeking, that is to sell The Rex.
In order for this consultation process to properly reflect community views, a longer timeline is required to ensure the community is properly informed of alternative options.
Although council is stating that these options do not need to be developed beyond a concept stage, some work will be needed to establish viability before circulating information to the community sufficient for them to reach a conclusion about the best way forward.
- Jules McDonald, convenor, Rethink the Rex community group