Current SES headquarters 'seriously dangerous': Ballina MP
WEDNESDAY 6.15am: BALLINA MP Tamara Smith weighed in on plans to construct a new SES headquarters in Ballina, saying it's crucial to determine a site for the much-needed complex to move forward.
Ms Smith said Ballina Shire Council and the local SES need to confirm whether the re-build will take place at the current location or elsewhere.
Securing "an appropriate site" is the priority at this stage not funding, Ms Smith said.
She hit back at Ballina mayor David Wright's comment a State Government grant would be great Christmas present.
"No government is going to fund a building without a site," Ms Smith said.
"It's not Santa its government."
Ms Smith shared mutual concerns with her local government counterpart, emphasising the current Ballina unit is "seriously dangerous".
She said she is committed to work with the council, SES and the Government to have the project up and running before the next election in 2019.
TUESDAY 9.30am: PLANS for a new Ballina SES headquarters have stalled, with a lack of funding for the important project.
Ballina's unit controller, Gerry Burnage, said the current facility was increasingly insufficient for operations with shed extensions and tarps being used to patch up leaks on the roofs during bad weather.
He said the original SES building was the old caretakers cottage at the Shaws Bay Caravan Park before it was moved to the SES site in 1986.
Richmond/Tweed operations officer, Chad Ellis, said "definite discussions" were on-going between SES and Ballina Shire Council regarding funding models and scoping an appropriate location for the new complex.
Mr Ellis said he hoped the discussions will progress in the coming months but without a State Government grant, the road to a new building may be long.
Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright said a grant would be "a nice Christmas present" for the SES and the council, but the plans could be delayed if funding cannot be secured before next year's State Government Budget.
A NSW SES spokeswoman said they have "nominal grant funding available to assist the Ballina Shire Council in its construction of a new Ballina Unit headquarters".
"We look forward to reaching an agreement with the council to progress this," the spokeswoman said.
"NSW SES continues to work with the council to improve the conditions of the Ballina unit building and the council has begun to implement temporary repairs to the premises to ensure that the volunteers can continue operations at this location until a long term solution can be agreed to."
Cr Wright said in hindsight, the new headquarters should have been erected with the new Ballina Fire and Rescue station on Tamarind Dr.
The mayor described the pursuit of a new Ballina SES building is "not just a want, but a need" and plans must progress as soon as possible.
Cr Wright expressed his concerns to the Minister for Emergency Services, David Elliot during his visit to the area in September and again in recent months.
When asked about plans for a new Ballina facility, the minister referred the response to the NSW SES.
As efforts continue to construct a new Ballina unit, the new Coraki headquarters is hoped to be in operation in the coming days with the official opening of the unit planned for the first half of next year.