Rose Swadling.
Rose Swadling.

The public deserve a say

MAYOR Brad Carter might have a fight on his hands to push through his plan to relocate councillors and 40 staff to the city’s historic Customs House.

Former councillor Rod Green has been canvassing councillors’ opinions and says a number are very opposed to the move.

Deputy mayor Rose Swadling is leading the fight to prevent the Quay Street icon from becoming an expensive extension to City Hall. And The Morning Bulletin understands some councillors are likely to be influenced by public opinion which has been strongly critical of the proposal to spend $300,000 at Customs House and adjacent grain store to create office space.

Mr Green, who served three full terms as a city councillor in Rockhampton, said he doubted the federal government would have gifted Customs House to the city if there was any suggestion that it would be used as office space for council workers.

“It’s a wonderful building, but it’s not a private work space. It was given to the city council for use by the people of Rockhampton.”

He believes there is office space within the wide-open spaces of the vast Walter Reid building that could be pressed into service as overflow accommodation at little cost.

“In the transition period leading up to amalgamation we worked out of the Walter Reid building. There was office space for the interim chief executive and his staff, administrators and the four shire mayors and other councillors,” he said.

Mr Green says judging by the responses from councillors to his questions, when it comes to a vote, it will be tight.

“The public should have a say on the matter,” he said.

Cr Carter says he’s not had dialogue with the councillors to find out their views and says he will stand by their democratic wishes.

“Whatever the outcome, it’s not an issue we need to die in the ditch on.

“I would like to thank Rod for his insight on Customs House and on the Walter Reid option.”

The mayor said he would like to get an early decision.

“We are already on borrowed time because of the overcrowding at City Hall,” he said. “All things will be considered.”

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