Crowd backs hall’s tenant

Growing Winchelsea secretary Mike Tucker reads out a resolution that the community group will submit to Surf Coast Shire Council about the town’s tearooms.

The Winchelsea community has voted to pressure Surf Coast Shire Council to keep Winchelsea’s former shire hall open “at all costs”.

More than 120 residents and community representatives packed the Former Winchelsea Shire Hall at a public meeting last week to come up with a way to keep the building available for use once its current tenant moves out on April 30.

The community endorsed three motions that Growing Winchelsea will submit to Surf Coast Shire Council in a bid to keep the future of the building in the town’s hands.

The tenant currently uses the building as tearooms and lets community groups regularly use the space, but an impasse over increased rent in a new lease agreement with the council means the hall will be locked up and empty until a council-commissioned community working group can find a use for it.

People at the meeting on Thursday voted unanimously to support the three motions, including resolving to ask the council to negotiate a “realistic” lease agreement with the current tenant, and to seek expressions of interest for the building, with the rent reflecting the hall’s community value, and that the community value and associated costs of upkeep be calculated and deducted from the commercial value.

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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