The Mullumbimby Hospital Action Group have written an open letter to Catholic Healthcare, on behalf of the ‘concerned people of Mullumbimby’ after a recent Byron Council staff recommendation regarding the Coolamon Villa aged care facility near the old Mullumbimby Hospital.
The group believe that the rent on the property should be raised to a reasonable rate, and outlined the history of the facility, built on land partly owned by the community.
Additionally, they claim that once Catholic Healthcare took full control of operations in 2007, the community ‘no longer had any say in the service’.
The Echo contacted Catholic Healthcare regarding the residents’ claims, and over the phone, a spokesperson told The Echo that there were ‘inaccuracies’ in the September 28, page 3 Echo story.
The Echo invited Catholic Healthcare to specify any inaccuracies, which they did not, but they did say that a decision was reached on the lease agreement with Council.
‘As a not-for-profit aged care provider, Catholic Healthcare continues to offer a valuable service to the Northern Rivers community at Coolamon Villa, which is home to up to 50 residents supported by a dedicated team of around 50 local employees,’ they said.
Meanwhile, Byron Council says its relationship with Catholic Healthcare Ltd is that of lessor and lessee.
They told The Echo, ‘The relationship was brought about by Council’s entering a tri-party Deed (Council, Health Administration and Catholic Healthcare) which was a requirement of Council’s purchase of the former Mullumbimby Hospital site, completed on December 11, 2018. At that time, Council inherited two leases dated 1982 and 1989. Council’s responsibilities, and those of Catholic Healthcare Ltd, were set out in the leases – the annual rent for the 1982 lease is $1 per annum for the full term. The annual rent for the first five years of the 1989 lease was fixed at $5,000 per annum payable quarterly in advance, and after the expiration of the first five years of the term, and at the expiration of each ensuing five years of the term, a sum calculated at the rate of five per cent of the then current unimproved value (as determined pursuant to the Valuation of Land Act 1916 or any act amending or in substitution of the same) of the freehold of the premises’.
At their September 29 meeting, councillors debated and voted behind closed doors over the matter.
According to the minutes, Council resolved to increase the rent from November 2023, to $135,000 pa over a ten year term, ‘plus a further two five year options’.
The Mullumbimby Hospital Action Group are calling for Council to sell the land to Catholic Healthcare.
The full letter from Mullumbimby Hospital Action Group is here.