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Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Mullum local locks on to stop hospital demolition

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David Bradbury locked onto equipment at the Mullumbimby Hospital site, Wednesday January 23. Photo Jeff Dawson

Well known Mullumbimby local, documentary filmmaker David Bradbury, has this morning locked onto an excavator at the old Mullumbimby Hospital site and erected a sign reading ‘Save Our Hospital’.

Mr Bradbury, who is spearheading a last-ditch community bid to save the hospital buildings, was in conversation with policemen this morning about his situation.

They have now left the site after handing him a fine.

The hospital, which was sold to Byron Shire Council for $1, is set to be demolished due to asbestos contamination, at a cost to Council of $3 million.

Mr Bradbury says the buildings could be remediated and retained for a fraction of the sum – although Council denies this.

He told Echonetdaily by phone this morning that he was ready for the long haul, despite a weather forecast for the high 30s and having just half a bottle of water left.

‘I’ve been in hotter water both politically and physically than this in the past,’ he said.

Mr Bradbury said earlier that, ‘Council was only given the hospital for $1 if they agreed to demolish the site using the Tweed-based contractor the state government had already signed the contract with’.

‘So we had no option but to go ahead with the destruction model, based on the asbestos excuse. A poisoned chalice handed to us which has now indebted the community and ratepayers to the tune of $3m plus interest. without so much as a public meeting or discussion to give us a chance to agree or disagree to that,’ he said.

‘And all we get is a level block of ground with all the broken bricks and rumble shipped to faraway Ipswich or Brisbane for deposit because we have no such facility here in northern NSW.

Awaiting a response

‘Why won’t Ben Franklin meet with Gil Lomath [a long-time hospital supporter] and the women of the hospital committee?’ he queried.

Mr Bradbury said this morning that police had given him a $300 fine and court appearance notice.

They have now left the site and police rescue experts are said to be on their way to remove the neck lock.

‘I’ve told them that I am prepared to remove it if (Byron mayor) Simon Richardson will come here and tell me why Council has no option but to demolish these buildings. Otherwise they will have to cut me out.

He added that the CEO of the Tweed-based demolition contractors had offered to speak to him if he removed the lock but he declined.

A Byron Shire Council spokesperson previously told Echonetdaily, ‘that the asbestos contamination of the Mullumbimby Hospital was ‘well known’ and ‘has been documented over many years’.

‘As part of the investigations into the future use of the old hospital site, which was purchased from NSW Health in December 2018, Council looked at the possible salvage of the buildings but three specialist building and environmental safety consultants recommended the majority of the structures posed a high risk to users,’ the spokesperson said.


Bradbury locked on via chain and padlock around his neck attached to the arm of the excavator. Photo Jeff Dawson

Public meeting

Mr Bradbury is calling for a public meeting on January 31 from 6pm at the Mullum Services Club to discuss a stay of execution for the Mullum hospital, which is expected to be demolished soon.

He says, ‘it’s an environmental criminal act to destroy a perfectly solid, good building which can serve the immediate needs of our community. With the $3m the Council is costing ratepayers, it is destroying the building and leaving us with nothing more than a flat levelled piece of prime real estate in the heart of Mullum. And no moneys to build anything on the site are guaranteed. We’ve already seen what happened with 166 Stuart Street and the same is most likely for Lot 22 if Council has its way to rezone it from a flood zone to “housing”.’ 

For more visit  Facebook pages for Frontline Films or David Bradbury.

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  1. Local Health District should reveal their registers of exactly where asbestos is in the buildings. Are these areas still intact? Has asbestos been allowed to be freed into the environment?

  2. The lengths we have to go to try and be heard by the people who are suppose to be working for us? This is a completely workable building totally insane to pull it down. 3 million dollars of rate payers money for a block of land… Good on you David for standing up for what you and the community believe in. Please hear the people council. Where are you Simon Richardson?

  3. Documentary filmmaker David Bradbury and Mullumbimby local, stands up for the former Mullumbimby Hospital although he skates on thin ice. His project is wobbly, and uncertain. It could fall over anytime but he picks a day and this morning he locked his perseverance onto an excavator at the old site where a sign is erected reading ‘Save Our Hospital’. And thus begins as he brushes his hands and shins of how David tries to save the soul of the town of Mullumbimby.

  4. The Mullumbimby Hospital Site Reference Group, of which I am a member, have spent over six months in regular meetings (as volunteers). We met with various council staff, engineers and invited experts to discuss the numerous options on what to do with the site. I am not aware of Mr Bradbury making any inquiries or submissions during this time. A lot of information would have been freely provided to him if he asked. The reference group was a wide selection of community stakeholders that was asked to convene and consult on the best way forward. It would seem that Mr Bradbury and a few supporters have gone off once again half-cocked and without bothering to ask relevant questions. Similar to the long detailed process being conducted by council over Lot 22, some people prefer to grandstand and create a nuisance instead of taking the time and consideration to find out what are the facts, what is possible, and what is best for the wider community.

    • Hi Michael thank you for sharing but I think it would be more helpful if the Mullumbimby Hospital Site Reference Group published its results of 6 months of meetings publicly so everybody can be informed. There is far too much top heavy governing going on with Byron Shire Council without them fully looking into what the community wants. The Hospital Lot 22 and 166 Stuart Street are all examples of council deciding what is best for the Councillors and not for the wider community. Give us the real reasons for the decisions and we might listen, most of the time the decisions are made and we a just told its going to be like this. Not democratic if you ask me, more like how many dollars can we make out of this by pushing for my contributions. BTW I was born and raised in mullumbimby and so were my parents and grandparents so I have seen everything that is being changed and not all for the better.

  5. I’m with Ray on this. It might not be a heritage site but it is certainly a historic site. The asbestos excuse is a poor one. Half of Mullumbimby would be knocked down if everyone followed this logic. A lot of us have a direct connection to the old hospital. It saved my life when I was 12 years old and I will always have a soft spot for the hospital that felt close and personal like a classic old Mullum house.

  6. Of course, the Hospital Site Reference Group’s priority was to save the buildings if at all possible. Apparently, the asbestos was all through the ceiling and the roof infrastructure was compromised. Any storm in the future had the potential of ripping apart the roof and creating a major health emergency in the immediate neighborhood. We did not have the luxury of the time needed to go to design and DA etc.
    The birthing unit is free of asbestos and we debated long and hard on how to save that at least. Being a three bedroom cottage though, it was decided the return was not sufficient in the extra cost and effort to save the infrastructure around it as well. Jan Mangleson, who has been a passionate supporter of the hospital and instrumental in getting it back for the community was a strong advocate for saving the structures at any cost. However, we all were convinced by the very qualified and well-informed advisers that, in the long term, it was not the best course of action.
    On one point I can agree with everyone. Why is not council on the front foot and explaining how and why these decisions are arrived at. Yes, we have a vocal and committed community who need to be informed on these matters. If they are not given the correct information then it is (sometimes) understandable how they can get off o the wrong foot.

  7. Thank you David for bringing this to everyone’s attention you are right there is no logic in this decision I am sure if there was then Council would be happy to explain it to you. 3 Million of Tax Payers money is being spent here.

  8. “three specialist building and environmental safety consultants recommended the majority of the structures posed a high risk to users”, which means a minority of structures didnt pose a high risk. So why werent they saved? And $M3 goes along way in decontaminating some, or all, of the other structures, which would leave the site with usable existing structures. Perhaps the reference group would like to inform us why the option of spending $M3 of ratepayers money didnt include remediation and thus leave some/all of the structures. We all dont have time to get our head around every issue, and it is just and proper for residents to act if they dont agree with what a small committee decides. Could have saved $50,000 on the bird wire structure if the project committee had come out to the public with where they were at with it. Could have saved trees in Railway Park if the the ‘no minutes check on their facebook site’ Masterplan committee actually represented any community views on development

  9. So what is the fate of the Old Byron hospital?? Or is that another $1 payment to State Govt so they don’t have to restore the buildings. Another car park lot.
    Now would be a good time to let us know Councillors!!

  10. Check out the attitude of the cop on the left…..Cant the authorities see the funny side of this brilliant ploy by David?
    Maybe the 3 million could go towards all the new prisons slated for the 3 Billion dollars this facist Federal government has commisioned to lock up and deprive more people for struggling to cope with this completely over ruled controlled so called Society we now live in.

  11. Thanks to David for doing this. For me there are 3 points of interest here that could do with some explaining:
    1. The feeling among many in the community here is that this facility belongs to this town, not the NSW government. (this is true I believe?) So it is not theirs to ‘give’ (or sell) to the community.
    2. I agree with Carol (above) who talks about ‘top heavy’ decision making by our council. I would like to know the process whereby it awarded the contract to the Tweed Heads company – these days we are justifiably suspicious of this kind of thing… eg was it an open tender etc? (…We’ve seen & heard very different quotes for such as the Byron bypass…)
    3. The recent construction & proposed construction of the units in Stuart & Argyle Streets seems to go against the grain here – yes we need housing BUT not at the huge rents advertised!


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