A letter asking for a stay in the redevelopment of the Warwick Saleyards was received at the Southern Downs Regional Council meeting on 22 November.
The letter from the Warwick Livestock Selling Agents Association chairperson Ben Johnston outlined the concerns of the association members that the redevelopment was neither ‘suitable nor workable’. It followed a meeting between stock and station agents and council officers, when the agents walked out of the meeting in protest.
“Going ahead with Stage 1 as presented to us is a massive step backwards. This plan is nothing like the original put forward to us in previous discussions,” the letter stated.
“If the redevelopment goes ahead, it is expected that major buyers, processors and key stakeholders will not attend the selling centre due to no cover, being exposed to the weather and having to negotiate their way through messy wet laneways.
“We strongly advise that the upgrade be halted immediately until further discussions are heeded and consultations are had with key stakeholders such as ourselves.
“If council does not have sufficient funds to provide an acceptable and functional facility, then we feel that you need to wait until sufficient funds become available.”
Mayor Councillor Vic Pennisi said his understanding was that there had been misinterpretation on the part of the agents.
“The original approval that council moved and carried remains unchanged, albeit reduced. There are some challenges with the walkways that will be addressed at a later date,” he said.
Director of corporate and community services Leon Love said one of the positives was that the agents accommodation, which had been thought to have contained asbestos, had been declared clear so the council would be able to retain that building for the foreseeable future.
Cr Pennisi said the facility would have the same footprint and would address the needs of those who used it.
“And at the end of the day that’s what we set out to do as council. My understanding is that we’re going to start on the eastern side and the southern side and when that’s done they’ll move the cattle into there and do the inside bit.
Cr Sheryl Windle said the council should be providing a response to the agents.
Cr Jo McNally wanted the councillors to meet with the agents and hear their concerns firsthand.
The council CEO Dave Burges agreed a meeting could be arranged between the agents and elected members of the council as well as officers on the staff.