THIS evening Council voted to undertake an independent business review of the Scone Airport Development.
Cr Abbott highlighted the significant community concern surrounding the project and the need for an independent review, especially in light of the economic impacts of the pandemic and the announcement that Cessnock Council has announced today that they have received $6.6million in funding for their airport, which includes an aviation museum.
Cr Abbott also highlighted the risk to ratepayers if projections were not realised, the hasty demolition of the airport terminal which resulted in $1,000 a week cost to ratepayers and the need for road funding and other vital projects across the Shire.
The Mayor amended Cr Abbott’s motion, to allow works on the airport to continue while an independent assessment was undertaken.
The Mayor said he was “sick to death of this project being pulled to pieces”, but conceded there were community concerns which needed to be addressed by an independent review.
Cr Abbott questioned if work should continue if the assessors found that the project was a risk to the Shire and ratepayers, but backed the motion.
Cr Ron Campbell said he thought “this was coming back to the committee”…”not to proceed”…”with tenders going well over budget.”
The Mayor asked Cr Campbell to stop speaking as the matter he was raising was only for discussion in closed Council.
Cr Campbell continued to say, “yet we’re piling on costs”…”not taking enough notice of the committee which realises these costs”…but said he was “happy to speak confidentially.”
Cr Abbott asked when the community would be able to hear about the matters being discussed in closed Council saying, “I do believe there are big clouds on the horizon.”
The Mayor said the community would be informed during normal procedure.
Cr Maurice Collison said he was “against everything” and said the airport was exactly what the Shire needed after covid-19 alleging Cr Abbott was using the pandemic as an excuse to stop the development.
Cr Collison also asked the Mayor about the “gentleman waiting to purchase blocks out at the airport….what are they going to do?”
The Mayor said they would still be able to purchase land.
Cr Watts supported the motion and said now more than ever an independent review was needed especially in light of the developments at Cessnock airport which will bring “a lot of competition into what we’ve put forward”, adding she had always had problems with the figures quoted with the project and was concerned the project would continue while the independent assessment was taking place.
Cr Brown said he thought it was sensible to have a review, explaining much had changed in the last few months with the impacts of the virus and the news from Cessnock. “I think it is timely…..but we must proceed with the airfield infrastructure.”
Several tenders relating to the airport are on the agenda to be discussed in closed Council. More to come.
Related stories: Scone Airport Development.