WANGARATTA’S “rural bloc” of councillors are under pressure to re-visit the multimillion dollar saleyards upgrade as early as the next council meeting.
The council last month voted 4-3 to consider a staged approach to the business which generates $40 million in sales and provides 90 jobs.
The push for a staged approach rather than spend up to $150,000 on hiring a consultant for a design and cost estimate was led by Cr Paul O’Brien and gained the support of Cr Noel Amery, Cr Julian Fidge and mayor Rozi Parisotto.
Cr Amery, the chairman of the council’s agriculture and agribusiness advisory committee, called a meeting this week to discuss the saleyards redevelopment, in response to a backlash from saleyards users.
The council’s former saleyards advisory committee chairman Harvey Benton said the project was too important to be caught up in council politics.
“It has come to the stage where they have got to make a decision to proceed or not,” he said.
“It will just grind to a halt if we don’t proceed somehow.
“It is up to the council how they do that.
“But we’ve got to find out what it is going to cost first.
“The bottom line is Wangaratta cannot afford not to have it.”
Appointing a consultant to undertake detailed designs and cost estimates was supported by the agriculture and agribusiness advisory committee ahead of last month’s council meeting at Cheshunt.
The council doesn’t have the in-house expertise to carry out the preliminary planning which also includes possible funding applications for the project.
“I don’t think it has been put on hold, but we’ve just got to get this thing moving,” Mr Benton said.
“The community has to appreciate what it is there for and the council has to find a way to move on.
“We’ve got to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
The saleyards handled 47,500 head of cattle in 2011 and is the secondbiggest selling centre behind Wodonga in the North East.
Options for the upgrade include roofing and soft floorings.