MidCoast Council, which is planning a move to new offices, has an intriguing poster in the foyer of its Taree office.
Under the heading “Case studies in office centralisation”, the glossy sheet proclaims that “Newcastle will have spent $19.5 million in total once they move 400 staff to new office space in West Newcastle”.
It’s an arresting figure, that $19.5 million.
It’s $12.5 million more than the council has promised its move to a new building in Stewart Avenue will cost.
And it’s a good deal closer to the $17 million estimate floated by sources in a Herald story last month.
The council dodged questions about the moving costs when we asked them in December.
As for the Taree poster, a MidCoast spokesperson said: “We have used a number of examples of other councils who have centralised their administration functions as part of the community consultation we are undertaking on the draft financing strategy for the proposed MidCoast Council centralisation project.
“One of these examples is the relocation of Newcastle City Council.
“We have used the figure of $19.5 million as we understand the cost of moving and fitting out the new space will cost approximately $7 million, and a further $12.5 million is to be spent to restore City Hall as part of the relocation project.
“References for these figures were gained from articles in the Newcastle Herald.”
Topics pointed out to the spokesperson that renovating City Hall had nothing to do with moving council staff to a new building, but they didn’t reply.
By the way, MidCoast says moving 350 admin staff from Forster and Taree into a former Masters (RIP) hardware barn on the outskirts of Taree will cost about $20 million.
Just how you compare the expense of moving staff into a new A-grade city office building with shifting them into a hardware store is anyone’s guess.
What is clear, though, is that MidCoast Council is doing a much more thorough job of consulting its community about its move.
If you check out the MCC website, you’ll find a goldmine of information about its plans, including detailed costings, business cases, a draft financing strategy, a Q&A panel, an online survey and links to all flyers, media coverage and council minutes.
And this is before the council even votes on it next month.
By comparison, NCC posted a one-page statement on its website on December 8, 2017, announcing it had already decided to move and entered into a lease agreement on the new building.
New beach shack
One of Merewether’s most striking beachside houses looks destined for the wrecking ball.
The three-storey pile in John Parade, one of Newcastle’s most exclusive streets, is up for demolition after the owners lodged plans with the council for a new house on the site.
The existing house features a circular glass column protruding up the centre of the building, a spiral staircase and lots of internal timber.
The new structure will be more conventional (by Merewether beachside standards, anyway) with plenty of square corners, glass and a rooftop terrace.