Councillors try to stop “imminent” M’bah TAFE campus sale
TWEED Shire Council will make an urgent plea to the Director of North Coast TAFE not to sell off the Murwillumbah TAFE campus for at least another three months.
The shock move follows a cabinet in confidence document leak, containing proposed divestment of the site, valued at $2.96 million.
North Coast TAFE management has previously confirmed a planned transition to move from the existing Murwillumbah site was underway, however it was not expected before 2017.
They, alongside local MPs, insist TAFE services would continue to be offered in Murwillumbah in the future.
But in a late addendum to last night’s planning committee meeting, Mayor Katie Milne said a TAFE representative confirmed at a February 29 community meeting, the sale of Murwillumbah TAFE building was “imminent”.
The meeting resolved to seek a three-month deferral of the sale of the building by TAFE NSW, to seek funds to develop a business case for an Arts Centre, and to submit a business proposal to TAFE NSW.
“It was highlighted that $4 million of public funds had already been invested in the building and arts facilities,” Cr Milne said.
“We have the highest number per capita of artists in Australia, it would be good for council to advocate for the community in this way.”
But Cr Carolyne Byrne challenged Cr Milne’s proposal to write to Lismore MP Thomas George to request him to hold off on the sale to allow time for the community to submit a business plan for the building to be used as a dual TAFE and arts precinct.
“Without details and proper information I can’t support this,” Cr Byrne said.
“If there’s another group in town that could do a better job... or another government agency who want to move in... that could be a great asset.”
Cr Phil Youngblutt said he was opposed to the site being used as an arts precinct.
“This major site would be ideal as a professional or commercial centre,” he said.
“I supports the arts, but not at this site.”
Cr Warren Polglase said the advice he had was the “building was not for sale”, and suggested the mayor write to Mr George to question if it was for sale or not.
“We have to consider if there’s other availabilities in the town if this building does get sold,” Cr Polglase said.
Cr Barry Longland said he attended the meeting and supported Cr Milne’s motion, but amended it to appeal to the Director of North Coast TAFE, Elizabeth McGregor, and not Mr George.
“She will be the person to make the decision,” Cr Longland said. “I don’t think trying to get Thomas George to take on the case, take it down to Sydney is the right way... things might have happened by then.
“The way the talk was the other night... it was suggested that the sale could be imminent.”
The motion was won on the casting vote of the mayor.