Three council reserves still on the market, CEN claims
Sections of three council reserves and "pocket parks" on the Peninsula are still on the market after asset sales triggered by Central Coast Council's financial crisis, according to the Community Environment Network.
These include land at 23 Memorial Ave, Blackwall; 7-9 Angler St, Woy Woy; part of the Austin Butler Reserve, as well as the manufactured home park land at 1-3 Fassifern Street, Ettalong.
A table presented at the August Council meeting revealed that Council had not finalised the sale for over 60 lots that it had proposed to sell, according to Network chairman Mr Gary Chestnut.
He has called on Administrator Mr Rik Hart to take them off the market now that the council has reached its sale target of $60 million.
"Mr Hart has stated that $62 million worth of property has been sold by Council since it commenced its asset selloff in November 2020, which means its $60 million target has been reached," said Mr Chestnut.
"The Administrator has publicly declared that the 2020-21 financial crisis is officially over, and that Central Coast Council is on its way to achieving a healthy surplus for the 2022-23 financial year," he said.
"Council doesn't need to sell any more land and we would like Mr Hart to declare a moratorium on land sales immediately," he said.
"The community has heard many mixed messages about the need to sell Council's assets including that it was a requirement for securing $100 million in loans from a commercial lender.
"Promises have been broken.
"Environmental land has been sold and community land placed on the chopping block.
"Fire sale prices have been accepted when the community was told that wouldn't happen.
"We are now asking Mr Hart to have a conscience and withdraw any remaining assets from the market."
Mr Chestnut said the Council's Land Transactions Policy required it to prepare a business case, land transaction plan and financial impact analysis assessing the strategic value of the land.
"While the financial urgency of late 2020 may have given Council an excuse not to comply with this, there is no longer any financial need to rush through further asset sales.
"All remaining assets listed as part of Tranche 1, 2 and 3 of the asset sales program must be withdrawn from sale as an act of good faith to the community which continues to bear the brunt of higher water and land rates along with cuts to infrastructure and services.
"If Council wishes to go forward with the sale of any remaining assets, it should do so in full accordance with its own Land Transactions Policy.
Now the financial emergency is over any failures to adhere to its own LTP should be treated as breaches of the Council's Code of Conduct.
"The time for the urgent sale of assets has passed.
"Mr Hart should tell the public when a full business case report on any further assets will be presented to Council."
Mr Chestnut said: "The fact that over 60 assets remain for sale raises many questions.
"Why was so much property listed for sale in the first place?
"If the sale of around 37 lots reaped over $60 million, what were staff and the executive leadership team thinking when they endorsed the sale of so much more land than was required?
"If Council intends to push through any more sales, it must bring proposals back to public meetings and prove it is adhering to its own Land Transactions Policy."
Media release, 19 Sep 2022
Gary Chestnut, CEN