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Byron Shire
June 2, 2023

Richmond Valley Council: ‘give us a break’

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Richmond Valley Council Mayor Robert Mustow,

Richmond Valley Council Mayor Robert Mustow said the current lockdown requirements were crippling local communities and it was time to take a more common-sense approach to the restrictions and RVC is calling on the NSW Government to rethink its approach to regional lockdowns in areas which are currently COVID-free.

Cr Mustow said RVC  towns and villages are suffering. ‘I’m not sure how much more they can take. It has been a tough 18 months – and it just keeps getting tougher. Events have been cancelled, businesses are closed, and family and friends are separated.’

Lockdowns are necessary

Cr Mustow said while he believed lockdowns were necessary when the virus appeared to be spreading in all directions, it was time to step back and rethink the approach in areas which were currently COVID-free.

Cr Mustow said is calling for the restrictions to be eased to allow more businesses to reopen under COVID safety plans, and to restore local travel between at least the six Northern Rivers councils.

‘The Northern Rivers is a connected region,’ said Cr Mustow. ‘People regularly travel between neighbouring towns for work, family, medical appointments and recreation.

‘Without this normal exchange with our neighbours, local communities and businesses are really doing it tough.

Richmond Valley businesses operate responsibly

‘Businesses in the Richmond Valley have already shown they can operate responsibly under COVID safety plans; maintaining check-in requirements and appropriate social distance. It’s time for a measured and sensible approach to re-opening these facilities.’

General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said Council recognised this as a difficult period for a lot of businesses, and was working to provide practical assistance to people in a range of ways.

This included providing information on government support to local business, working directly with local chambers of commerce, and hosting a business mentor through the Business Resilience Project. More details on the mentoring project are available on Council’s website.

Mr Macdonald said councillors would be examining ways to help businesses and ratepayers at the 21 September Council meeting.

Interest-free payment arrangement for ratepayers

He said Council already offered an interest-free payment arrangement whereby you paid a regular amount weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and he encouraged those experience difficulty making payments to contact the Customer Experience team for assistance.

‘As this situation continues to develop, and government response broadens, there will be many ratepayers who may experience financial challenges,’ said Mr Macdonald.

‘If you are able to you are encouraged to still pay your rates when they fall due. However, we understand this may not be possible for all ratepayers. We are here to help where we can.’

Council has also been active in promoting a shop local campaign.

The Discover Richmond Valley website has a comprehensive landing page to enable residents to easily search for a local businesses to match their needs. 

‘Our small businesses contribute enormously to the Richmond Valley economy, so if you want your business added give our team a call,’ Mr Macdonald said.

‘From placing orders with them, to promoting them on social media – there are a lot of ways you can help the Richmond Valley’s small businesses weather this COVID-19 storm.

‘Many have revamped their websites and Facebook pages to make ordering easier for consumers in the current conditions.

‘In other words, if you’re thinking about buying something, rather than log onto eBay or Amazon, check out your local Richmond Valley businesses first.’

Richmond Valley ratepayers will need to apply for an interest-free payment arrangement under Council’s Financial Hardship Policy.

An application form is on their website, or call 6660 0300.

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