‘The roof leaks like a sieve’: SES in dire need of new home
UPDATE, 11.22am: THE community turns to them in times of disaster.
But in a serious storm, Ballina's State Emergency Service base could be the first building to go, the mayor has said.
Councillors have voted unanimously to reaffirm efforts to secure funding for a new home for the SES in the town.
Ballina SES unit commander Gerry Burnage fronted this morning's council meeting and urged councillors to support a notice of motion, put forward by Cr Sharon Cadwallader.
"We've been trying for about 10 years to upgrade our facilities in the Ballina Shire," Mr Burnage said.
"We have a serious problem with our facilities.
"They're not purpose-built."
Mr Burnage said they'd been dealing with a leaky roof, just two toilets for some 90 members and no decent training area.
"About three to four years ago we even had to tarp our own roof," he said.
"We really need to push the issue."
Cr Cadwallader said funding a new home for the SES was "a matter of urgency".
"That 34-year-old cottage that came from Shaws Bay, that council's continually going out doing repairs for… how can they possibility operate in a space like they do?" she said.
"The roof leaks live a sieve," she said.
"We've got to work extremely hard to make this happen sooner rather than later.
"It's so badly needed."
The council's general manager Paul Hickey said $200,000 had already been committed from the State Government for "pre-planning" works.
Mr Hickey said councillors would receive a briefing on possible sites for the new SES centre next week.
He said they could then "formalise the options for council".
Mr Burnage had estimated $3 to 4 million would be needed for the new facility.
Cr Keith Williams said for "such an important response agency", their current base was "one of the worst facilities you could imagine".
Cr Jeff Johnson agreed the matter was "quite urgent" but noted the council had already been lobbying hard for funding.
"Let's see if we can get funding sooner rather than later," he said.
Cr Eoin Johnston said the volunteer group's current conditions were "a blight on the community."
After two amendments, all councillors agreed to further lobby the state and federal governments and to receive a report on the nature of the future SES facility, site options, design plans and estimated costings.
Original story: BALLINA'S SES has welcomed a push for the council to increase efforts to find funding for a new base.
Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader has lodged a notice of motion before tomorrow's meeting that the council further engage with state and federal representatives to make construction of a new SES base in Ballina possible.
Ballina's State Emergency Service unit commander, Gerry Burnage, said he was hopeful the motion would receive support.
He said they'd been pushing to replace the current hub on Angels Beach Drive for about a decade.
"It's such a growing shire and it's not purpose built ... it's so outgrown," Mr Burnage said.
"We haven't got training facilities, we haven't got proper facilities for members, or even to house our machinery properly.
"As the shire grows we will require more vehicles and we've got nowhere to put them."
He said there were some alternate sites on their radar, but stressed a new base would need to be central to Ballina.
Their current building has a leaking roof which Mr Burnage said was too loud when it rained. He said the space was sweltering in the summer and "very cold" during winter.
It's also too constricted to properly house their training, he said.
Cr Cadwallader said she was concerned the SES resources in the region were "stretched to their armpits".
"We don't know when the services of the SES will be brought into the spotlight, in a natural disaster," she said.
"We don't know when the pressures are really going to be put on. It's an unknown.
"We don't know when that need's going to arrive."
She said their current base was "inadequate".
"It's just really really substandard," she said.
"We need a proper amount of money to get this to happen.
"You can only have so many sausage sizzles."
Councillors will consider the matter before their ordinary meeting tomorrow.