Hospital site sold to council for one dollar
THE state government has offered to sell the old Mullumbimby Hospital site to Byron Shire Council for just one dollar. An offer the Council will surely not refuse.
Despite council in turn being liable for the cost of cleaning up the asbestos contaminated site Mayor Simon Richardson hailed the sale as, "an incredible win for the community."
"It goes to show when we all work together- political parties, (community) groups, (all) government levels and individuals we can achieve anything," he said.
"We will now organise a community group and a process to look at a way forward for the site. Once we get the keys to the site we can look at what really needs to be done and the scale of remediation required."
Ben Franklin, Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW convinced the Health Minister to stop the proposed demolition of the hospital and to allow the Council to offer a "reasonable" price to buy the site.
"It was very clear to me at the rally held on 23 April that there is enormous support for retaining the site in the community's hands in perpetuity," Mr Franklin said.
"This is a terrific outcome for the community. I have (already) heard a range of wonderful and innovative suggestions for its future use,"
On 26 April he met with Mayor Simon Richardson and General Manager Ken Gainger to discuss the options on how to proceed.
"At the 26 April meeting with Council, we agreed that all parties would try to convince the Health Minister to gift the site to Council, particularly as they will have to take full responsibility for any required remediation," Mr Franklin said.
"I am delighted to have been able to achieve that and thank the Mayor and Council for the constructive way they have handled the issue," he said.
Member for Ballina Tamara Smith congratulated the Mullumbimby Hospital Action Group and the community, "for forcing the government to recognise that it is community land."
"Politicians always like to claim that they deliver things but we know that it is the community standing up for what's right, that has gotten this great progress us towards retaining community land," she said.
"The challenge we have now is to make sure that the State government is the one that pays for the decontamination of the site and not the ratepayers of Byron Shire.
"I expect now that Byron Shire Council will undertake extensive community consultation in order to determine the future of this site."
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard congratulated Mr Franklin for his tireless advocacy for the Mullumbimby community.
"Your local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin has been relentless on this issue," Mr Hazzard said.
"He made it clear to me that he felt that the community, through the Council, should receive the site for a token amount. His passionate advocacy has led to this result," he said.
Due to the asbestos contamination of the site, the government still believes that the most sensible outcome is for Council to demolish the buildings. However, the Council now has the opportunity to suggest other approaches to make the site safe for the community.
For full transparency on hazardous materials on the site, NSW Health will make available to Council all Hazmat reports and other relevant documentation.