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Byron Shire
July 7, 2022

Wardell Memorial Hall lease not necessarily a ‘done deal’

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Wardell CORE team Anne, Lou, Mary, Anissa, Markey, Joel, Venetia and Molly the dog at Wardell Hall. Photo supplied.

A volunteer group credited with coordinating major flood response and recovery efforts for the riverine village of Wardell and surrounds may have a chance to return to the town’s hall.

The Ballina Shire Council effectively voted twice last month to evict Wardell CORE from the Wardell and District War Memorial Hall in favour of renewing a lease to long-term tenants, the Wardell and District Progress Association Incorporated.

The first vote happened as part of a Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting and was reconsidered at the council’s ordinary meeting in late May.

Independent councillor Phil Meehan told councillors at the second meeting CORE had been doing great community work and expressed concern the group hadn’t been invited to formally express interest in taking over the hall.

Councillors engaged in a lively debate about the lease arrangements, with Independent Councillor Nigel Buchanan suggesting it had become a divisive matter in Wardell.

Greens’ councillors Kiri Dicker and Simon Chate supported Cr Meehan’s vote to reconsider the lease, along with Independent Councillor Jeff Johnson.

But the vote was narrowly lost 5-4.

Community flood recovery group squeezed out of public hall

The CORE group moved out of the Memorial Hall when the electoral commission took over the space for voting purposes in May.

The volunteer group set up in an old bank building in Wardell but CORE organisers told The Echo the new space was far from ideal, with nowhere near enough space for the many donations for flood survivors the group collected and the building less accessible than the Memorial Hall.

Council staff said the hall was undergoing major flood repair work with a new lease to be confirmed in July.

Submissions on Wardell Hall lease still open

But confusion over whether or not the lease is a proverbial ‘done deal’ emerged Thursday morning when perusal of the Ballina Shire Council website showed submissions on the lease proposal for the hall were being received until 6 July.

‘As the land is classified as Community Land, in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act, interested persons are invited to make a submission in writing with respect to the granting of the Lease,’ information from the council stated.

‘Where a submission is an objection, the grounds of objection must be specified.

‘All submissions, including any personal information, will become publicly available and will be made available to the applicant and interested members of the public.’

The Echo sought clarity from the Ballina Shire Council as to whether or not submissions could trigger changes to the lease on the hall but a response wasn’t received by deadline.

Meanwhile, Cr Chate told The Echo the council shouldn’t be making any decisions until all submissions for the lease had been reviewed.

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