Equex to expand following council purchase

Garry Hiscock spoke passionately in favour of expanding the Equex facility at Monday’s Wagga City Council meeting.WAGGA City Council will spend more than $300,000 to expand the Equex Centre site despite fierce opposition to the proposal from a number of councillors.

Council was split five-all on whether to approve the purchase of a 13-hectare block adjacent to the current Equex site, with Kevin Poynter absent, and mayor Rod Kendall used his casting vote to force the motion through after a marathon debate lasting more than an hour.

The five councillors who voted against approving the compulsory acquisition of the land –Julian McLaren, Paul Funnell, Yvonne Braid, Greg Conkey and Kerry Pascoe –all flagged significant reservations about council spending such a significant amount of money.

Cr McLaren raised concerns about the lack of due process over the decision, a lack of detail about the proposal and questioned whether approving a six-figure purchase could lead to job cuts in council down the track.

“Tonight we sit here with an all-or-nothing approach which really disappoints me,” he said.

A lack of a business plan held significant concerns for Cr Conkey, who also noted council’s finances were in a precarious position.

“We’re doing it tough at the moment to come up with a balanced budget for the next few years,” he said.

Other issues raised by councillors opposed to the proposal included the land in question being situated on a floodplain and the quality of water that would run off the site into Marshalls Creek.

As part of the motion adopted by council on Mondaynight, a business plan will have to be prepared for the future use of equine sites at Equex by the end of April by council in conjunction with the Equex Outdoor Association.

Councillor Garry Hiscock, who has championed the merits of the Equex equestrian facility for more than 20 years, was furious at the opposition to the motion, labelling the debate “laughable”.

“Nobody can produce the goods,” he said.

“My facts are real.”

Cr Hiscock noted that “land is always a good investment” and said the Equex Outdoor Association had always been one of the city’s biggest contributors among its sporting organisations in terms of land donated and funding granted.

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