Future of Ray Walsh House
The TRRRA is a non-profit association whose charter is to represent to Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) and other government bodies on behalf of TRC residents on matters that affect their interests by any person, organisation or government body.
The below comments are made as a matter of public interest to assist Tamworth Regional Council in its decision making.
On Tuesday 5 December 2023 Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) advised the media that it was considering the sale of Ray Walsh House (RWH), the Council Chambers in Peel Street, as an option. This was after ratepayers and residents had approached TRRRA and some of the TRC Councillors advising that they had heard persistent rumours that TRC was going to bring forward a proposal to sell RWH to developers for demolition at the last meeting before Christmas. For some time there has been a persistent rumour that the Council car park adjacent to RWH has been subject to an in principle heads of agreement for sale to developers.
In the TRC records, RWH is valued at $50 million and is written down to $28 million after amortisation. Its replacement value then is at least $50 million. There is mixed information about the extent and cost of remediation of the asbestos problem. Recent works undertaken for $2 million was publicly stated to have remediated the internal walls of RWH and that there was largely no asbestos in the walls. The asbestos is apparently located in the ceiling in the lagging of the air conditioning. There is supposedly a report from public works to remediate the building for a cost of $60 million held by the TRC bureaucracy. This is difficult to believe. Reliable local builders believe the work could be done for small fraction of that figure.
Additionally it is thought that TRC bureaucracy is considering a new TRC building located near the old Parry Shire building vicinity possibly incorporating the new library, art gallery and performing arts space at an estimated cost of in excess of $100 million.
From a commercial point of view, there appears to be a substantial risk that on the basis of poor information, TRC will sell RWH, Council Chambers, to a developer, who will spend a minimal amount remediating the building and doing a new fitout for commercial and or residential tenants, and end up with an asset in the vicinity of $50 million, for a price paid of much less than that amount.
We understand that there are a number of reports from the Public Works Department and other consultants about RWH and the attendant asbestos issues. We understand that none of the Councillors have been provided with these documents.
We call upon the TRC bureaucracy to provide all of this information to the TRC Councillors, which is their right, and the public which is the ratepayers, we are discussing total assets and expenditure of approximately $150 million.
It is extraordinary that the TRC bureaucracy is telling Council it is considering selling the RWH and yet declining to provide all of the relevant reports to councillors and the public.
Given the seriousness with which we regard the above issues, the apparent intransigence of the TRC bureaucracy and the potential substantial negative effect on ratepayers, we request that this information be immediately made public. If that does not happen without delay, we will lodge complaints with the appropriate authorities.
Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association
Where was Kevin when they were drawing up the plans?
Recently I had the opportunity to listen to the Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson on a local radio station speak about the impact of renewable energy projects on residents within his electorate, particularly a solar farm proposed for Loomberah.
When describing a solar farm located at Wellington, he said they were "ugly and horrible", but his comments beg the question again and again "what was Kevin doing when his leader John Barilaro and Treasurer Matt Kean were drawing up the Renewable Energy Zone maps in 2020?
He was a minister in cabinet, he would have known all about what his government was planning for rural residents. He seems to have had zero influence on any proposal in his electorate or the transmission lines required for them.
With his support for electricity privatisation in 2015 when his Liberal/National Coalition ruled both NSW and the Commonwealth, both Kevin and Barnaby had the power to ensure that the impacts of these projects on rural people were mitigated.
Now they grumble as though they had nothing to do with the decision of their respective governments, prior to losing to Labor. Now Labor are simply continuing the work of the Liberal and Nationals in this space.
The Nationals demonstrate unequivocally that unless you have money, power or influence in country areas, they will forget all about the people they purport to represent. Just check out the Santos gas extraction proposal for the Liverpool Plains. Santos has been busy recruiting National party members to fill their administrative ranks as they take on the farming communities of our great food and fibre bowl.
The pure hypocrisy of the former Country Party and their acquiescent MP's. People like the late Earle Page, Arthur Fadden and John McEwen would be appalled.
Mark Rodda, Tamworth