Council Explains RSL LifeCare Withdrawal Decision?

Richmond Valley’s General Manager claims to be making  “all residents” aware about “the reality” of the RSL LifeCare withdrawal of its retirement village proposal from the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.

But this does not appear to be the case as VWD knows a number of property owners who did not receive the 3 pager which was posted out individually to some residents at ratepayer expense.  And was it posted to the whole council area or just the lower river area?  We have been getting reports that folk from Casino haven’t heard a sausage.

RVC to Residents Re RSL LifeCare Withdrawal 22 March 2013RVC to Residents Re RSL LifeCare Withdrawal 22 March 2013 page 2RVC to Residents Re RSL LifeCare Withdrawal 22 March 2013 page 3

How much this has cost is anyone’s guess.

The General Manager’s letter has a number of problems and one of these is shifting the blame to the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) for approving the fees and charges or what are called Section 64 and Section 94 developer charges for sewage and other works.

In fact the JRPP based its decision on the figures provided by Richmond Valley Council!!!  It’s a bit rich to be blaming the JRPP for this decision although there are lots of other things you can criticise them for including a failure to keep good Minutes of the Hearing.  They certainly don’t meet minimal standards  for public record keeping.

It had been known for a long time that the project was not financially viable.  Council material available to VWD shows earlier correspondence where this is mentioned and where council came to the party by allowing them to sell off 24 blocks from the site for their own profit.  This was on top of the discounted price for the whole 10 ha site.

There is little doubt that the bed licenses were becoming a problem because they had been approved so long ago.  In fact the matter was raised at Senate Estimates in February this year:

It wasn’t long after this was raised at Senate Estimates that RSL LifeCare pulled the plug. There had been so many promises for so long that the beds for the nursing home were just about to be built that there was very little credibility left.
This also had other potential ramifications for bed allocations for RSL LifeCare.  Perhaps Health and Ageing might have been asking questions about delivery not only for this project but others.  Not good in an election year when embarrassing questions might be asked of the Minister for Health and Ageing:

‘So, Minister for Heath and Aging, why have you allowed a bed allocation to go for so long unfilled?  How many generations of old folk need to die before beds will be available?

Raises serious questions about the management of the portfolio.  Mind you the bed allocation has been around since 2001 so both the big parties are up for some heavy criticism not just Labor.

In the final paragraph of the GM’s letter mention is made of speaking with councillors about the RSL LifeCare problem.  So how well informed are the councillors about the matter and is it wise to be making them spokespeople for council about a complex planning issue? Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

So councillor, what did the Office of Airspace Regulation have to say about the Fly-Neighbourly Agreement, and what is an ANEF and how is it determined and how did the ANEF registered in 2005 compare with the ANEF for the same area in 1999 and why the difference?  And councillor can you explain the discrepancy between the General Terms of Approval of the NSW Heritage Office and the decision of the JRPP to put in place a Section 88E instrument to deal with the noise issue?  Why has this matter remained unresolved and why did they attempt to put this measure in place and why has the Heritage Council decided to stay with its General Terms of Approval? And what was the ruling of the Supreme Court of NSW with regard to the caveats over the aerodrome and the hangar leases and what does this mean for the subdivision of land and how much did it cost council to take the hangar lesses to court given that the court has ordered council to pay all costs?  And a lot more questions of this kind.  So councillor, what’s your answer?

The General Manager’s letter raises quite a number of issues particularly when reference is made to some matters to which the community was not privy.

Now that RSL LifeCare has pulled the plug the General Manager should post all correspondence about the matter on its website so that the public can make up  its own mind.

And there needs to be some accounting for the cost of this fiasco.

How much money did council pour into this project? And as we keep asking, where is the business plan?

Council needs to stop flying by the seat of its pants in its business dealings and stop offering special deals for developers while the rest of the poor mug punters, that’s you and me, pay full freight.

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