Saleyards’ ownership shaky

RICHMOND Valley Council's long-term ownership of the unprofitable Casino saleyards will be reconsidered following a motion to be put forward tomorrow night by councillor Robert Hayes.

The decision follows the Federal Government's announcement not to guarantee $3.5 million towards an $8 million upgrade of the sale yards earlier pledged by former Page MP Janelle Saffin.

Cr Hayes said he wanted the council to "reconsider the operation, management and ownership of the facility" given it was "going backwards" without any funding from the government, and risked becoming a burden on ratepayers if the problem was not addressed.

"The financial figures and throughput have been falling constantly, from 129,414 head in 2009-10 to 96,280 head in 2012-13 and figures to date for the first six months of the 2013-14 year are well below that again," Cr Hayes said.

Figures for profit and loss remain unclear, although one long-time observer, who wished to remain anonymous, suggested losses could total as much as $380,000 over the past three years.

One calculation derived from budget statements no longer available on Richmond Valley Council's website listed average weekly expenses as high as $18,281, with $3500 per week on cattle pen maintenance alone.

Richmond Valley Council general manager John Walker has told The Northern Star the council would need to spend $2 million to address animal welfare and workplace safety issues at the saleyards if it is to remain operational.

Cr Hayes said he wanted Council to discuss "downgrading" the saleyards to a smaller facility.

"The amount of cattle that go through there doesn't warrant all the maintenance that goes in ... the community wants the saleyards to be open, but they also ask it to remain viable," he said.

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