Community & Business

10 March, 2022

Yungaburra men get their shed

A PASSIONATE plea by the newly-formed Yungaburra Men’s Shed to use the old town hall for its operations has been rewarded despite a warning by Tablelands Mayor Rod Marti of potential trouble down the track.

By Robyn Holmes

The Men’s Shed group appealed to Tablelands Regional Council at its last meeting to use the Yungaburra Memorial Hall for its activities, giving the structure a temporary reprieve from being removed altogether. 

Due to its age and lack of use, council voted in July last year to remove the building but only after a 12-month period to see how much usage the facility had. 

Representatives from the Men’s Shed put their case to the council to take over the reins, stressing that it would be able to not only make good use of the under-utilised hall, but would be able to manage it, make it available to other community groups, maintain it and upgrade it if necessary. 

Michael Hodgkins told the meeting that since the group was formed in January, it had already attracted membership from 20 per cent of the males aged over 65 years in that area, noting that currently Yungaburra had 180 men in this age group. 

Kev McKenzie also spoke, giving councillors assurances that the group had the ability to manage the hall and was in a position as an incorporated group to secure grant funding to upgrade the hall.

“We can insure it, manage it, maintain it and upgrade it,” he said. “We are asking council to make this hall available and give our group a base, even if it’s temporary.” 

Councillor David Clifton supported the proposal, reminding council that it had used the mantra “use it or lose it” when they decided to give the hall another 12 months to see if it was still needed by the community. 

“But we haven’t repealed the previous motion so this building still has the executioner’s sword hanging over it. It really is a question of time,” he said. 

“Let them use the hall until we can discuss the wider issue of a more suitable place for them.” 

Even Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew supported the proposal despite openly admitting he usually advocated for the disposal of old assets such as the hall. 

“However, I’m supportive of the Men’s Shed – it’s definitely not a great location for a Men’s Shed but if we allow them to use it for 12 months, during that time, we can look at other ways of providing a facility for them away from the sporting precinct.” 

But Mayor Marti and Cr Annette Haydon both spoke of concerns about the proposal – the Mayor about the use being in conflict with the sporting precinct that surrounds it, and Cr Haydon about the continued risk and costs for council. 

Stressing that he supported the Men’s Shed group and the benefits it offered the community, Cr Marti said his argument stemmed from the potential conflict between the uses. 

“We currently have a sports reserve with tennis courts, a multi-purpose court and an oval – and the proposal to use the hall as a men’s shed represents a conflict of uses,” he said. 

“How long will it be before a parent complains that their child had to retrieve the net ball from among the sawdust and power tools? 

“How appropriate is it to have a makeshift workshop under the awning, 2-3 metres from the multi-purpose court? Does this council really need to create a situation where a conflict or a dispute is guaranteed at some point? I think we have enough of those already.” 

He also reminded councillors that it had already determined the building should go. 

“We have a very old building best suited to demolition,” he said. 

“It has asbestos in five locations and council passing the building off to the men’s shed or any other group, doesn’t dissolve our responsibilities or liability – we are still completely liable.”

While he pledged his support of the Men’s Shed, he warned councillors to “not let our determination to help them be at the price of approving a conflicting usage amongst our sports facilities”. 

Cr Haydon also gave a warning to council that costs would still have to be incurred to allow the group to be housed there. 

“We still have to do electrical and fire checks and there’s also depreciation so there’s still a cost to council. I think the Men’s Shed could be put in a better place,” she said. 

CEO Gary Rhinehart also issued a word of caution, advising councillors that because the land was a reserve, the Lands Department would have to be notified and a check as to whether the proposed use was consistent with that reserve. 

“We need to investigate that – ultimately if the use is deemed inconsistent at an officer level, then it will be subject to the discretion of the Minister,” he said. 

Council eventually agreed to commence negotiations for the tenure of the premises to the Yungaburra Men's’ Shed, with Crs Marti and Haydon voting against the motion.


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