Council stalls on water pricing

THERE may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel in a long-running dispute over water pricing in the Richmond Valley.

The Richmond Valley Council decided on Tuesday to defer a final decision on the price it charged the Northern Cooperative Meat Company for water for one month.

That month will allow new council general manager John Walker to hold discussions with the co-op.

The council and the co-op have been locked in an at times bitter dispute over water pricing since May 2010.

Initially the council decided to increase the meatworks' water charge from 69 cents a kilolitre so $1.70.

That figure was later revised down to $1.19.

At the peak of the dispute in March last year, angry meatworkers stormed the council's chambers following a protest march through Casino.

The relationship between the parties broke-down further when the co-op took out a full page advertisement in The Northern Star on February 15.

In that advertisement the co-operative called for public support in the dispute and included a pro-forma letter to council.

The meatworks also claimed former general manager Brian Wilkinson and Mayor Col Sullivan reneged on a deal which would have settled the dispute.

According to the council, 574 individually signed forms supporting the meatworks were received, 191 of which were from respondents outside the council area.

Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan said it was good news that the parties were at least talking again on this issue.

"The council has agreed to defer the decision for one month to allow our new general manager the opportunity to try and work through the problems," Cr Sullivan said.

"I am pleased that at least we are back negotiating and talking.

"With our new general manager and the possibility of the influence of a new general manager at the meatworks, it is a great opportunity to recommence negotiations between both parties and try and solve the issue."



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