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Business News

Council red tape puts $400k development on hold

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Grafton brewery industrial complex in North St, Grafton

Council red tape puts $400k development on hold

By Tim Howard

Local government red tape has put a $400,000 business investment which could create up to five jobs at risk says a group of people behind the proposal.
The Brewhouse Group said Clarence Valley Council’s conditional approval for a 24-hour car wash at the old Grafton brewery industrial complex in North St, Grafton, would make it “unfeasible”.

The owner of the complex, Rick Firth, said the project was on hold because council had slashed its operating hours and also refused to discount Section 64 developer fees.
Mr Firth said the development, which proposed a car wash, dry detailing bay and 2 vacuum bays at the North St site, was a state of the art system which recycled 85% of the water used.

He said the system kept a lot of chemically contaminated run off out of the storm water system as well as reducing pressure on the sewerage system, which the council told him was close to its operating limits ahead of an upgrade in 2027.
Mr Firth said the extra tenement fee involved added up to $87,000, which he had discussed with the council’’s development management unit last year.

He said he proposed reducing the fees by about half, but this had been ignored during the council committee meetings and at the final meeting which approved the DA.
“There was no discussion at all about the fee reductions, all the councillors seem to worry about was operating hours,” he said.

Council staff said contribution rates for car washes (per lane) are included in Section 64 Guidelines, but a council resolution from June 2017 meant there was no scope for staff to reduce Section 64 contributions for “pro-active water management measures”.
Mr Firth said he was considering going ahead with the proposal but not installing the water recycling technology, which he said could cost as much as $1000 a month to run.
He said an operator he knew near Port Macquarie, had done this to save costs and was able to run the business successfully.

“It goes against what I believe to do things to help the environment,” he said. “But at the end of the day it has to be a feasible proposition to run.”
He said the reduced operating hours were not a deal breaker, but were difficult to understand in an area zoned as industrial.

“There are two other carwashes in Grafton, both operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and one is right next to a residential area which makes this recommendation very confusing,” Mr Firth said.
“We are an industrial complex and by default have a development that is already compliant, so don’t understand why we would be treated any differently to similar businesses that have approval to operate all day and night.
“Our carwash is brand new technology and much quieter than those already in operation and will employ up to five people, however we’ll find it difficult to go ahead with the proposed operating hours as it just won’t stack up financially.”
Mr Firth said the complex could employ two full time and one part time staff on the carwash and potentially a car full time and part time car detailer.

At its May 25 meeting most councillors supported limiting hours although not as limited as the council officers, who recommended 7am to 7pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 3pm Sunday.
Instead they went for 13 hours operation Monday to Saturday and 11 hours on Sunday. Councillors felt residents across the road from the proposed car wash needed breaks from the noise and traffic activity the business would generate.
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the DA amended to include reduced opening hours.

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Business News

NSW Premier refuses to meet collectively with mayors of 12 COVID-hit communities

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QR codes, masks and tests please

NSW Premier refuses to meet collectively with mayors of 12 COVID-hit communities

The NSW Premier has refused to meet collectively with mayors in the 12 local government areas (LGAs) hardest hit by COVID-19 to discuss the devastating impacts of the State’s health orders on their communities.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott asked Premier Gladys Berejiklian on August 16 to meet with LGNSW and the affected community leaders, as well as the Minister for Health and the Police Commissioner, but this week the Premier declined to take the meeting.

“The Premier says she wants to hear the voices of local communities and is willing to meet with community leaders but has rejected this opportunity to meet collectively with the 12 mayors working night and day through the impacts of the current outbreak,” Cr Scott said.

“I’m surprised the Premier would reject such a golden opportunity to build consensus in facing down this very real threat to the well-being of our most vulnerable communities. These leaders are willing to set aside the time, but the Premier seems unwilling.

“The Premier’s rejection of our request actually breaches the commitment made in the Intergovernmental Agreement, which the Premier signed on behalf of State Government and I signed on behalf of local government in October 2019.

“In this agreement, the Premier promised to consult with LGNSW and our sector before any significant policy decisions were made and to work with us to achieve positive outcomes for our communities. But on this occasion it has not happened.”

Cr Scott rejected suggestions her public disappointment with the Premier’s response was politically motivated.

“The 12 affected local government areas have mayors and councillors of every political stripe, including Liberal, Labor and Independents,” she said.

“This is a bipartisan attempt to work better together for NSW communities that need our support. There’s never been a more crucial time for all elected leaders to put aside any political differences and work together.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW would continue to push for the collective meeting on behalf of the mayors in affected communities.

“I am continuing to call on the Premier to honour her Government’s commitment to work with us as equals and meet these 12 mayors and councillors who are working so hard to support our communities and are feeling ignored,” she said.

“Mayors and councillors are continuing to provide effective and meaningful leadership to support our communities through droughts, floods, bushfires and COVID. They are on the frontlines of this battle, getting calls from anxious community members on a daily basis.

“The NSW Government should be working with us to lead our communities out of these dark times rather than ignoring something as simple and potentially beneficial as a collective, sit-down online discussion.

“I hope the Premier reconsiders and accepts our offer soon.”

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Business News

NSW LABOR CALLS ON THE GOVERNMENT TO PRIORITISE SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT

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Ballina News-Lismore news-Grafton News-Byron Bay News-Tweed Shire News-Casino News-Richmond Valley News-Byron Shire News-Clarence Valley News

NSW LABOR CALLS ON THE GOVERNMENT TO PRIORITISE SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT

NSW Labor is calling on the Government to prioritise the coordination of financial support for small businesses impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdown with reports that over half of the 130,000 businesses who have applied, yet to receive a single cent.

The NSW Government has repeatedly assured businesses that they would be supported through this crisis with payments for businesses suffering a downturn of 30 per cent or more. Despite these promises many small businesses have been left waiting as the Government has been unable to manage the demand for support.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said so many small businesses have made massive sacrifices to keep our community safe, but many are hanging on a knife’s edge with huge losses of income and reduced cash flow.

“We are six weeks into lockdown and many small businesses are yet to receive the financial support that was promised to them. It’s unacceptable. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the NSW economy with support lagging, there will be many businesses who will find it difficult to recover,” Mr Minns said.

“These are real people trying to keep their businesses afloat. Every day that support is delayed is a day closer to more businesses being unable to recover once this lockdown ends – people’s livelihoods are at stake.

Shadow Minister for Small Business Steve Kamper said, “We really are asking a lot of small businesses to keep the community safe. The least we can do is ensure the proper financial support is available and flowing fast.

“Support is needed now – there is too much at stake, for individuals, families, communities and the state’s economy,” Mr Kamper said.

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Business News

BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS

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BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS
BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS

BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS

By Margaret Dekker

A group of Byron Bay traders met last Friday to discuss a slump in trade in the iconic tourist town due to plummeting tourist numbers and foot traffic.

Katie Munro from clothing label Arnhem told The Northern Rivers Times talk is rife among traders about concerns over in-store sales falling across an array of businesses in the community.  In her conversations with other local businesses there are reports of revenue dropping by as much as 60 percent.

“People were buying last year, but with fear and the ongoing uncertainty about the virus, this year buying habits have shifted to what is essential,” Katie Munro said.

“And there’s no one in town,” she said.

The irony of the situation, Katie says, is while Byron Shire property prices are booming and millions of dollars are being injected into real estate, the big spending is not being replicated in local tills.

And despite mounting requests from shop tenants, commercial landlords are firmly refusing rent relief on Byron Bay shopfronts which can average around $2,000 a week on the premium strips.

In a united effort to stem the engulfing tide, Byron Bay retailers and restaurateurs have begun a new ‘Love for Locals’ campaign, rewarding shoppers from the Shire with experiences and store discounts, and special offers and deals between traders.  ‘Love for Locals’ is being pitched at old and new ‘Byronians’ in an effort to “get the town going again.”

“.. Conversations have started around buying local, not giving our dollar to big multinational companies .. We can make an impact if we stop and consider every little spending decision we make,” Katie Munro said.

With news late last week of virus fragments detected in Byron Bay wastewater, and a new alert over a COVID-19 positive person landing in Ballina from Sydney on July 14, the mood has shifted again with Byron Bay last weekend likened to ‘a Ghost Town.’

But Katie Munro says there is also energy and optimism stirring as traders collaborate with other local businesses and begin embedding new behaviours with a focus on supporting local; to move from ‘struggling’ to surviving and thriving ‘during these strange times.’

“Conversations have started. There’s a movement, momentum among local traders, we can get through this again.” Katie Munro said.

 

 

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