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Bendigo Bunch: Cavalier removalists destroying city assets

Is the City of Greater Bendigo totally ignorant to community concern about the dud GovHub project that will cost residents many, many millions of dollars and see us lose prime land and assets?

Or are they simply hell-bent on destroying the few remaining vestiges of hope and faith that they can actually consult and listen to residents, make independent decisions based on quality information and convince us that they can put our best interests first?

The Hargreaves Mall debacle and Carter farm disaster have been costly and unnecessary. But the Bendigo Bunch is excelling themselves with the dud GovHub in being out of step with the community and certainly not protecting our independence or assets with the Lyttleton Terrace city home – land and buildings - to be sold and knocked down to keep the State Government happy.

Both Bendigo Bunch and government are refusing to release the business plans for this $100 million dud GovHub that will create only a confirmed 55 new jobs – the plans for sale of land and assets, the plans for building a dud, the plans council renting in a dud – nothing released to inform the residents of Bendigo. They are partners together in destruction of a city asset (source: government website).

Now the Bunch have announced on they are getting ready to vacate the iconic city home to prepare it for demolition next year. The removalists are ready to move before the wrecker’s ball hits in a matter of months.

Out the door first will be customer service with the centre moving to the Hopetoun Mill offices in November. And keeping up the Bendigo Bunch’s growing and infamous reputation for avoiding contact with people, they will introduce self-help kiosks.

And it has announced that to accommodate approximately 200 other staff needing to move from the Lyttleton Terrace site, the City will enter into an agreement with the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank to lease the upper level of the Fountain Court complex. Apparently 16 sites were inspected and assessed to find the right location but it’s not as though council has told us where those sites were.

“A range of spaces were considered and compared in regards to size, lease cost, fitout costs, IT set up costs, number of car parks included, proximity to public car parking, timing of availability, proximity to other City offices, and limiting disruption to staff and customers,” said ratepayer employee Andrew Cooney.

“Fountain Court was chosen as it has sufficient space to accommodate staff in a single location, office furniture is included, there are minimal additional set up costs including easy access to IT fibre, sufficient meeting spaces, and limited disruption and impact on staff and the community.

“Independent market analysis was also commissioned to assess the rental costs, which outlined the amount Council will pay per square meter is comparable with similar available office space in Bendigo.”

Cooney says the city will enter into a three-year lease agreement with the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank with the option to extend or exit the lease as required. Release the details, the costs or are they like the business plan, should it exist, hidden from the community.

But this Bendigo Bunch announcement, like all others on dud GovHub, only raises more questions than it answers. How come there is so much spare space in the Bendigo Bank building? What will be the impact on parking or is there now so much space unused in the Bendigo Bank building that there’s room for heaps of council staff cars? Is this why the Bendigo CBD and Hargreaves Mall are floundering under the watch of this council?

And the big question: how much money will the council be paying the Bendigo Bank to use part of their headquarters for three years while wreckers wreak havoc in Lyttleton Terrace? Now the Bunch has announced another done deal before a decision is even taken by council, there is no commercial sensitivity to telling us what we will pay.

But back to the removalists. We’ve all heard the horror stories about household goods being damaged when moving home. The Bendigo Bunch and State Government can probably add a whole chapter to the book with the dud GovHub that is imposing a bargain basement concept on Bendigo while Ballarat gets the Rolls Royce model.

Will the removalists trash the office location move so much that no onewill want discarded office furniture in Lyttleton Terrace and its only use will be a good old style Guy Fawkes bonfire this November?

The Bendigo Bunch can be assured of one thing: the fireworks are only just beginning for the betrayal and contempt they are showing to the people of Bendigo over dud GovHub.

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