Council to offload closed hall

Colac Otway Shire Councillors have voted to gift the Pennyroyal Hall to its committee of management, despite community calls for it to remain a shire asset. Hall committee treasurer Jen Bush said the council’s divestment would threaten the hall’s future in the long-run, but the group might have no choice but to take the offer.

Colac Otway Shire Council will gift the ownership of Pennyroyal Hall to the community, despite a community committee opposing the plan.

Dozens of Pennyroyal residents and community members packed the meeting room at the Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre on Wednesday night to argue against council officers’ recommendation to transfer the hall and land to the Pennyroyal Hall Committee for a peppercorn amount.

The hall committee has previously said it didn’t want to take ownership of the site.

The hall has been closed for four years after an emergency order to close it, and is in serious disrepair, but community speakers at the meeting raised questions about ongoing maintenance, rates and other regulatory costs.

Councillor Chris Smith attempted to move an alternate motion pushing the council to instead work with the committee to let them restore the hall to a usable condition, including funding the project at least $45,000 in lieu of demolition, power and insurance and co-operation on grant applications for restoration, but the motion lapsed without a seconder.

Councillor Joe McCracken moved an amendment that the council would open negotiations with the committee, with a report to the council if negotiations failed, but councillors voted against it three-four.

Councillor Chris Potter moved a revised officer recommendation for the transfer, including a 10-year waiver of rates after transfer or until June 2030, plus an agreement with the committee that the hall would be renewed for public use, a commitment to pay for ongoing building and public liability, a reimbursement of $45,000, and an offer of assistance for future funding requests for the hall’s renewal.

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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