$150,000 for archive bid 

COUNCIL will abandon usual tender processes in a bid to secure grant funding for an archival storage facility for Goulburn.

At Wednesday’s meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to engage Lateral Projects and Development Pty Ltd to prepare a business case.

The study, estimated to cost $150,000 will back a Regional Development Australia funding application for the purpose built centre.

Time is of the essence to lodge the application by December 6, says Mayor Geoff Kettle.

He told the Post Council was justified in doing away with normal tender processes.

Contracts over $150,000 require a tender but the NSW Local Government Act allows its abandonment where “extenuating circumstances” apply.

Cr Kettle said given the short time frame, Lateral Projects, which did the project’s original scoping study, was the obvious choice.

The seed was sown earlier this year when Council engaged consultants Cockatoo Network to push three regional development projects, the archives being one.

It did not call tenders.

Asked whether he was concerned about perceptions Council wasn’t following due process, Cr Kettle said the organisation had carried out its due diligence on Lateral Projects.

Moreover, the circumstances warranted the action.

The funds will be plucked from a Southern Phone dividend ($35,000), the Eastgrove digital TV reserve ($5759); $39,927 from the economic development projects Reserve; and $69,314 from the strategic marketing reserve.

Council is bidding for a slice of $50m available in RDA round three or $175m in round four.

Cr Kettle said the business case was vital if Goulburn Mulwaree was to have a chance.

“We don’t have money to tip into this facility ourselves,” he said.

“We are acting as a broker and a conduit.”

The scoping study has identified the city as a feasible location for a purpose built storage precinct, capable of housing Australia’s national collection.

Cr Kettle said if the project became a reality it would create local jobs and provide Australia’s cultural institutions with an economically viable way to store their excess stock.

“City storage facilities can be expensive and, in many cases, have been developed in an ad hoc fashion as collections have grown,” he said.

“It makes sense to consolidate storage, in a clustered way, with the resulting economies of scale.

“The scoping study estimates the costs of collection storage in Goulburn as up to two thirds less than that of capital cities.

Building costs are no more expensive than Sydney and Canberra prices.

“The case for Goulburn as a storage precinct becomes even more compelling when one adds to the mix Goulburn’s prime location between Canberra and Sydney, its excellent road, air and rail links, its lack of congestion, the availability of existing and potential storage sites, the skilled workforce and its desirability as a place to work and live.”

Australia’s collection is valued in the billions of dollars and at any given time 95 per cent of it is in storage.

The scoping study identified that most cultural institutions had storage facilities in capital cities and that a regional, consolidated, purpose built facility could save taxpayers a significant amount of money. However, when the Post asked Laterals director Katherine Armstrong for specifics she said the information was “commercial in confidence”.

Cr Kettle said discussions were in progress with both cultural institutions and government agencies to explore the possibilities raised in the scoping study.

“The federal government recognises the need to position regions to seize opportunities that are based on a comparative advantage. It is looking for local leadership to develop economic options that contribute to and sustain regional growth, provide community benefit and leverage additional funds,” he said.

“The state government is also keen on decentralisation and identifying public sector job opportunities in regional areas.”

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