Consultation to help inform saleyards decision

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More than 750 people responded to a Council survey addressing the future of the South-West Victorian Livestock Exchange.

An analysis of the community consultation undertaken by Council in relation to the saleyards will be presented at the November 7 meeting of Council.

“The survey attracted a large number of responses from Warrnambool residents and also residents of surrounding municipalities,” Warrnambool Mayor Cr Debbie Arnott said.

The consultation process identified various groups of stakeholders including residents, stock agents, livestock producers, agribusiness operators, general retailers, business operators based at the yards, livestock transport operators and other business operators.

Respondents were asked the following:
1.    What is your connection to the Warrnambool saleyards?
2.    How would the closure of the saleyards affect you, or your business?
3.    How could Council mitigate the impact of closing the saleyards?
4.    Any other comments that you would like to make?

“The survey avoided eliciting basic ‘keep it/close it’ responses because that had the potential to present skewed findings if one or two stakeholder groups were over-represented,” Cr Arnott said.

“The more nuanced survey showed that residents of Warrnambool feel differently about the saleyards compared to livestock producers from other municipalities.

“For instance 41 per cent of the respondents who were residents of Warrnambool said it would have no impact on them and of this group over 72 per cent want to see the yards closed. About 30 per cent believe a closure would either directly affect them, their friends or family.

“By contrast most livestock producers, about 80 per cent of whom live outside the Warrnambool municipality, said the closure of the yards would have a negative impact on them and their businesses,

“The survey was followed by a series of meetings with stakeholder groups who were given the floor to expand on their arguments for and against the saleyards.

“There were opinions on both sides of the fence in relation to the future of the saleyards but Council ruled out the roof upgrade in its August meeting.”

The community consultation will be one of several key reports that Council will consider on November 7.

The others will be an economic impact report, a commercial forecast and a land use report.

“It’s a complex issue. We have to consider the saleyards from a range of perspectives – and we will,” Cr Arnott said