Ballina Shire Councillor, Jeff Johnson
The long awaited, and already discredited, financial analysis of the proposed redevelopment of the Wigmore Arcade (Option 1) has again been delayed. This report was supposed to be submitted for councillors’ consideration in November last year and its delay is continuing to cost ratepayers money.
The cost for a redevelopment of the arcade has been estimated by Council staff (Finance Committee Report 4/4/13) to be $5 million. This is an outrageous waste of money given the proposed redevelopment won’t increase net rental space and the existing building has been assessed as ‘structurally sound’. Council has already wasted over $50,000 on consultant fees and more in staff time on this project. The continual mismanagement of the Wigmore has resulted in a number of businesses either closing or relocating, uncertainty for continuing businesses which have been placed on monthly lease arrangements, and a cost to the community of approximately $200,000 per year in lost rental revenue. All this at a time when Council management should have been doing all it could to assist the businesses survive difficult economic times.
This matter should be resolved as a matter of urgency, a minor refurbishment of the arcade undertaken and long term lease arrangements offered to existing and prospective businesses. Council should have determined its plans for the future of the Wigmore long before placing the businesses on monthly lease arrangements.