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Fury over new water charge

Northern Co-operative Meat Company chairman George Bennett (left), general manager Gary Burridge and deputy chairman Lennard Blok are facing some tough decisions on the future of the Casino meatworks.
Northern Co-operative Meat Company chairman George Bennett (left), general manager Gary Burridge and deputy chairman Lennard Blok are facing some tough decisions on the future of the Casino meatworks. Scott Harlum

THE general manager of the Northern Co-operative Meat Company has responded with fury to a decision by the Richmond Valley Council to set a new water charge for the Casino meatworks at $1.19 a kilolitre.

The council made the decision to reduce the price paid by the co-op from $1.70 a kilolitre at an extraordinary meeting held yesterday morning.

But co-op general manager Gary Burridge said the new price was "unacceptable" and that the decision risked the viability of the meatworks.

"There are serious consequences (of the decision)," Mr Burridge said.

"This is impacting on the future viability of the business and obviously that brings with it some significant challenges for directors in making their decision whether (the business) is an ongoing concern."

Mr Burridge also accused council general manager Brian Wilkinson and Mayor Col Sullivan of being "deceitfully silent" in communicating in a report to the council the outcomes of a meeting involving the parties held on November 29 with Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and Local Government Minister Don Page.

Mr Burridge claimed an agreement-in-principle was reached at the meeting which both parties agreed to promote in order to obtain formal agreement from the co-op board and the council.

"Had those individuals conveyed to the council the sentiments of the meeting, the undertakings of the meeting, and the outcome of the meeting, I doubt we would be in the position we are today," he said.

But both Mr Wilkinson and Cr Sullivan rejected Mr Burridge's claims, stating they were not in a position to reach an agreement on behalf of the council on November 29.

"We had no power to agree, simple as that," Cr Sullivan said.

"We never indicated we supported (an agreement)."

"What we did say is we were prepared to put it to council. We did that and the council rejected it," he said.

Cr Sullivan said he was "disappointed and hurt" by Mr Burridge's comments which he described as "misleading and very damaging".

 

Do you agree with the council's decision? Leave a comment below.

Topics:  meatworks northern co-operative meat company richmond valley council



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