The Inner West Council has commenced a property fire sale which could see some of the most iconic public buildings in the inner west go into private use.
Last night the Inner West Council issued an expression of interest seeking “proposals from experienced property developers and land owners to provide a strategy to address Council’s future accommodation needs”.
The EOI includes the Leichhardt Town Hall, Petersham Town Hall, Ashfield Town Hall, and a range of Council depots across the inner west as well as administrative offices in Leichhardt and Petersham.
While Council claims that Town Halls will remain in public hands, it hasn’t ruled out long term leases which would see the public locked out.
This follows the announcement of an $18 million deficit in the Inner West Council’s 2019-2020 budget and a multi-million dollar deficit in 2018-2019.
Jamie Parker, Member for Balmain says:
“If Council can’t manage its funds, the solution isn’t to flog off public assets to developers.
“It is disappointing that Labor is teaming up with the Liberals to flog off some of our most iconic heritage buildings.
“It’s completely disingenuous for the Labor Mayor to be arguing against privatisation by the NSW Liberal Government at the same time as he tries to sell off every significant piece of land that the Council owns.
“Council must release the secret reports which form the basis of their claims of a $58 million saving so residents can see how much of these savings are actually just property sell-offs and redevelopments.
“We need a full review of the Inner West Council budget so this Council can learn to live within its means rather than sell off the silverware to stay afloat,” he says.
Rochelle Porteous, Inner West Councillor says:
“The fact that these iconic buildings are in the expression of interest shows that every single one is up for grabs. These building could be subject to long-term leases which would prevent public and community use for decades.
“It is extremely concerning that Labor and Liberal Councillors voted against the Green’s amendment to remove the iconic Town Halls from the EOI process.
“This has nothing to do with accommodation but is all about the Council scrambling to cover to fill the massive budget deficit they have created.
“Following a push from the Greens last night, council has agreed to open up the EOI process to community groups, social enterprises and not for profits.
“What we need to see now is the development of a strategy which will plan the future use of community-owned public buildings and meet the current and future needs of the local inner west community,” Cr Porteous says.
Jenny Leong, Member for Newtown says:
“At a time when we should be protecting and investing more in public spaces and infrastructure that strengthen our communities, we’re seeing Labor jump on board the Liberal privatisation agenda.
“This is a plan to sell out our community,” she says.