Tweed Shire Council could soon start talks with Gold Coast City Council to discuss providing joint library services if it withdraws from the shared Richmond Tweed Regional Library (RTRL).
The move came after councillors accepted general manager Mike Rayner’s report recommending that Tweed advise Lismore, Byron and Ballina councils it will not be part of the shared service if it’s managed under a county council model.
The four member councils of the RTRL are currently reviewing a number of options for the management of the shared library service which has been run by Lismore for almost two years after it was found the old model was not legally sound.
But last year the state government amended legislation to enable a shared delivery of library services and councils have been re-examining their options.
Last week, Lismore council decided to return to a shared model of management, ending a campaign against its running the service. Ballina and Byron also will consider a shared model, with a meeting of all four councils last month deciding to consider all options.
But on Tuesday, Tweed councillors approved the report by Mr Rayner 5–2 (Crs Joan van Lieshout and Katie Milne against) which threatened to leave the shared service if a county council model was adopted.
Mr Rayner said the issue had been discussed for years and the county council model was ‘potentially a costly alternative that provided very limited opportunity for Tweed to influence the management, operation and long-term planning of its library service’.
He said agreement could not be reached with the four councils on which joint model should be adopted and therefore the Tweed could look at sharing a service instead with the Gold Coast City Council, but continue to be involved in the review of options.
He said Coolangatta was ‘adjacent and immediately accessible to the Tweed community’, there was a ‘good relationship’ between Gold Coast and Tweed council executives and a ‘genuine desire’ from Gold Coast council to ‘work more cooperatively on these issues’ with the Tweed.
‘This report just says we should commence initial discussions,’ he said.
But Cr van Lieshout said that by joining the Gold Coast ‘we’d be losing our identity’ and the Tweed ‘should be careful not to sell out’.
‘We’re northern NSW and should retain our identity and we should think very seriously about doing things with the Gold Coast, except for transport,’ Cr van Lieshout said.
Cr Katie Milne unsuccessfully moved to defer the report until Byron council had reported back on the various options.
But Cr Longland took a swipe at Byron council, which had led the push to put all options on the table.
‘When it comes to Byron shire’s input, they said they would go away and look at all the options yet at their meeting this Thursday they’re putting forward a county council model, so how is that looking at all options?’ he said.
Cr Kevin Skinner said the Tweed’s biggest partner in the service should be the Gold Coast which had ‘hundreds of times’ more facilities and library stocks ‘for all to tap into’.