Council admits to loose language in hub defence

Shellharbour City Council has been accused of providing misleading information to justify its $57 million City Hub project.

An artist's impression of the proposed Shellharbour City Hub.

An artist's impression of the proposed Shellharbour City Hub.

Council staff this week conceded its "language" on the lifespan of its current administration building in the Shellharbour City Centre, known as Lamerton House, was "not as precise as it could be".

Shellharbour Council moved its administration offices from Warilla to Lamerton House in 1991 after purchasing the building from GIO for $4 million.

At recent community meetings and in published "fact sheets" relating to the $57 million City Hub project, the council said that Lamerton House initially had an expected five-year lifespan "not the 20 that it has turned out to be".

Last month Cr Peter Moran questioned the accuracy of the council's statement.

In the report tabled this week, the council's director of corporate policy Lee Furness said when the move to Lamerton House took place in 1991 it was thought that new council chambers would be built on adjacent land, known as Lot 3000, within five years.

However, Ms Furness said by 1993 the council had concluded the purchase of Lamerton House was not a "solution", hence the inclusion of new council chambers and offices in the council's contributions plan.

Ms Furness said the five-year claim would have been more accurate if it had said "within five years it was implicitly recognised that Lamerton House was an interim solution to the replacement of the Warilla Civic Administration Building as the 1993 Section 94 Plan contained provision for new council offices, council chambers and sessional service facilities".

Cr Moran said some council staff and councillors had accused the Stop the Hub group of making false claims, but they could not say who said what, when or where.

"If this council had any courage or sense of honour or morals as an organisation then we should stop making unsubstantiated claims ... and issue a formal written apology to the Stop the Hub members," Cr Moran said.

Councillors voted 4-3 against writing a formal apology. Councillors Helen Stewart and Kellie Marsh voted in support of Cr Moran's motion, while councillors David Boyle, Marianne Saliba, John Murray and Paul Rankin voted against.

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