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Council Meeting Wrap-Up for February

Café Tenant for Armidale Airport 

Frequent travellers and visitors flying via the Armidale Regional Airport will be pleased to hear that Council is a step closer to awarding a tenant to operate the café. Getting the café operational again after the impact of Covid-19 on travel numbers was one of the objectives of the elected Council’s Growing Region Key Pillar Working Group.  
The preferred tenant has come after an Expression of Interest (EOI) and independent evaluation through a local estate agent which ran from 15 November and closed 4 December 2022. The EIO process incorporated promotional flyers to local hospitality businesses, paid social media, website advertising and direct consultation with various interested parties via email.
Council wanted to ensure a sustainable tenant was secured, one with local connections to suppliers, a business model and experience in the hospitality sector. The combination of these factors would indicate a position for a sustainable long-term tenant. The preferred candidate has been identified as Tattersalls Hotel and Council have authorised the commencement of commercial lease negotiations.

Reconciliation Action Plan and NAIDOC events being planned for 2023

The Minutes of the September and November meetings of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee were shared with and noted by Council at the February meeting.The main project for the Aboriginal Advisory Committee this year is the preparation of the draft Reconciliation Action Plan and how this aligns with Closing the Gap.  At the September meeting, there was discussion of the draft Reconciliation Plan, as well as the possibility of dual naming of the Newling Oval to recognise the contribution of the Narwan Football Club and a bus-stop at the Narwan Reserve. 

There was also discussion about the plans for the upcoming 2023 NAIDOC events around this year’s theme which is ‘For Our Elders’. Aboriginal community involvement in the Armidale Creeklands Project was discussed at the November meeting, along with an invitation for the ARC Library staff to provide an update on the Aboriginal Elders Tech Savvy Program. 

Child Safe Organisational Standards and Action Plan

Council endorsed the draft Child Safe Action Plan for review by the Children’s Guardian. The Child Safe Action Plan is central to Council’s commitment to child safety. The draft Plan was developed as part of Council’s commitment to implementing the 10 Child Safe Standards which were a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Plan helps embed child safe culture across all of Council’s operations and give effect to all Royal Commission recommendations.
The next step is for the draft Plan to be submitted to the Office of the Children’s Guardian for review. The Office of the Children’s Guardian may provide feedback on the Child Safe Action Plan for Council to incorporate prior to final approval and implementation. A copy of the draft Plan is published on Council’s website. 

Financial information in the Second quarterly review 

The 2022-2023 Quarterly Budget Review was endorsed by Council after noting the figures in the review, which is a summary of Council’s financial position at the end of the second quarter for the financial year ending 30 June 2023. 
The overall aim of the budget review process is two-fold: To identify where expenditure and revenue are not tracking against budget and to adjust where necessary; and to maintain the Council’s forecast financial position for the remainder of the financial year in respect of the operating result and the unrestricted cash position. A schedule of proposed changes is then created and presented to Councillors for their approval.

Overall the forecast general fund has moved from an original deficit position of ($3.193M) to an estimated deficit of ($4.899M) as at 31 December 2023, a total negative movement of ($1.705M).  The largest impact on the budget position has been the requirement to include an additional $2.356 M in depreciation expenses. Council has been able to mitigate the impact of the additional deprecation expenses through adjusting proposed expenditure and sourcing additional revenue. It should be noted that without the inclusion of legislatively required depreciation expenses the estimated change in the financial position would have been a positive increase of $651K.

Traffic management and route changes for exciting events in our region 

When an event is being planned, the organisers often have to consider a road closure or simply notifying Council or their event which may impact traffic. The Traffic Advisory Committee considers all of these applications and makes recommendations to be noted by Council. 
The next major community event is the Autumn Festival with a new date of Saturday 1 April, including much-loved street parade, which will start at 12.30pm. As the pandemic impacted on the event over the past years, this year as the event looks to rebuild, there will be a trial of a shorter parade route. Float and stall applications are coming in to Council’s events team. Please see our Facebook page for further details.

Another event in early April is a charity bike ride with Back Track Youth Works, who have planned a 3-day cycle tour from Armidale to Tamworth, Tamworth to Bingara and Bingara to Armidale from 2 to 4 April 2023. There is also Culture Fest, on 10 March, hosted by UNE, which is an evening festival being held in Civic and Curtis Parks in Armidale to celebrate the diversity of culture in the New England Region. The festival will have numerous activities for all ages of the community including kids’ art, live music and dance performances and for this reason have requested the closure of Faulkner Street between Dumaresq Street and Kirkwood Street. 

The annual Tour de Rocks charity bike ride will be from Thursday 20 April to 22 April 2023 and aims to raise $250,000 for researching a cure for cancer. Approximately 500 cyclists normally ride from Armidale to South West Rocks over a three-day period with support personnel. This year with the closing of Kempsey Road (except for local traffic) for a major upgrade, the normal Tour de Rocks route needed to be changed. However, the good news it will mean more locals will be able to cheer the riders on as they ride by. On Day One riders start at Civic Park and end at Wollomombi, Day Two of the ride is from Wollomombi and ends at Guyra Showground. The final day of the ride starts at Guyra Showground and ends at SportUNE in Armidale. 


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