Group wants a co-operative to partner with council to run NRLX

Casino business owner Allan Berry speaks at the public meeting at the Casino Golf Club in September.

Susanna Freymark

Some locals want to set up a community cooperative to lease the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange in Casino.

Residents Allan Berry, Kasee Estreich, Neil and Penny Schneider, Roger Bailey and Jenifer Handford have written a letter asking Richmond Valley Council to slow its tender process for leasing out the NRLX.

The group wants to keep the saleyards in local hands and not have it run by a corporation.

Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said the procurement process was underway and government tendering requirements applied.

Richmond Valley Council has appointed real estate firm JLL to manage the tender process independently.

The council would not be making any comments at this stage to avoid claims of tainting the process, Mr Macdonald said.

“Council encourages interested entities to contact JLL who is managing the tender process for council,” he said.

The people who wrote the letter were behind the public meetings held on September 4 and 25 in Casino.

Hundreds of people attended these meeting, raising concerns about the closure of the NRLX after agents refused to sign the council’s new licence agreement by July 1.

The group wants to tender to lease and operate the saleyards through a community cooperative and would “prefer to do this in partnership with the council, as this would be the best outcome for the Northern Rivers as a whole”.

“We request the council review the timeline for the tender period and support a community cooperative tender to be developed and submitted,” the letter said.

“Our primary desire for the NRLX is to see it shine as a local icon, built by the Northern Rivers community, for the community and supported by state and federal government community development grants.”

A Federal Government grant of $5,750,000 was announced last month to upgrade the NRLX effluent system that was damaged during the 2022 floods.

The letter asked many questions:

Why is the council refusing mediation?

Why is the council refusing to create an advisory committee?

Why has the council allowed the NRLX to remain closed rather than allow a continuation of the agent agreement while thoughtful decisions be made?

Why are we rushing to a long-term lease – possibly to outside interests – at breakneck speed? Will the 2023 RV Council be remembered as the council who sold out the heartbeat of Casino for profits? Does this council lack faith in local community expertise to further develop the NRLX at a local level in the manner of Norco, the Casino Food Co-op and numerous lighthouse businesses across Australia.

Council said all tender inquiries could be made to JLL representatives Chris Holger on 0411 177 167 or Clayton Smith on 0428 878 523.

Read all stories relating to the NRLX here.

The public meeting at the Casino RSM Club on September 4. Photos: Susanna Freymark

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