INDIGO Shire is under attack for showing bias to Beechworth as elderly residents in other towns are frozen out of a community firewood service.
Beechworth pensioners and concession card-holders can have firewood for the winter months delivered at a bargain price by the shire in conjunction with the Beechworth Prison community crew.
It has been available to Yackandandah in recent winters.
But those who have accessed the service outside Beechworth have been told it’s no longer available and other towns in the shire are left out in the cold altogether.
The shire has 200 tonnes of wood sourced from fire damaged areas of Indigo Valley sitting in Chiltern ready to be used by those most in need this winter.
Cr Bernard Gaffney will ignite the issue at next week’s meeting after being contacted by concerned pensioners after the onset of cold weather.
“I have worked with volunteers delivering meals on wheels and it saddens me to see the elderly sitting in cold houses wearing overcoats, scarves and beanies because they can't afford to turn on a heater or afford to buy wood,” he said.
“What is the shire policy?
“When we’ve got 200 tonnes sitting on the ground waiting to be used it should be available to all towns from Kergunyah to Wahgunyah and going to those most in need.”
Chiltern pensioner Mary Jackson said the situation needed to be resolved.
“There are a lot of people in Chiltern and across the shire who would be in need of some of that wood and we would like to see it delivered to those who really need it,” she said.
“A lot of them are pensioners who don’t have family close by who can go and get them some.”
Chiltern’s tourism and development association chairman Kevin Mayhew said the service needed to be equitable to all residents.
“If it is just a continuation of bias shown to one community by the shire then I would caution them that not only is the right thing done, but is seen to be done across all communities in the shire,” he said.
“We are very keen to ensure an even hand is applied across the shire.”
Cr Gaffney said he had raised the matter with senior shire staff and been informed the service was already over budget by $1000.
“Wood is a renewable resource and this is shaping to be a very long and cold winter,” he said.
The council's website states pensioners and health care cardholders can purchase the firewood for $15 with delivery to residents around Beechworth.
Other residents can access the wood at the council's transfer station.