Letter of Complaint re Council decision to sell the Rex 

Council’s decision to sell the building came as a huge shock.  We were not expecting them to abandon the project because their public statements about the Rex have been positive, for example:
 
In the Rex Update, 21 June 2021, then Mayor Lesley Hewitt said:
“We understand the importance of delivering this transformational project.”
 
At the Council Meeting on 20 July 2021, then Mayor Lesley Hewitt said:
“Council’s vision is to return the Rex Theatre to the community as a public facility. In repurposing the Rex for this purpose, a number of contemporary uses have been included to maximise its use. These uses include a public auditorium, a library, public amenities, a digital co working hub and council offices and customer service. This is to make the best use of these impressive spaces and ensure the building is preserved for the future. All its heritage features are being retained and the works completed in a way that preserves its heritage while bringing it up to current standards.”
 
The Council paid $6 million for a building worth $3 million, they spent another $3 million on it, if they sell for $3 million, they will lock in a cash loss of $6 million – with nothing to show for it!!
 
By abandoning the project in the way they have, Council has effectively killed off the cinema because they will only be focussing on alternate arrangements for staff offices and the library.  The cinema is on its own.  The fact is there is no other building in Daylesford which lends itself to being used as a cinema and which is available for this purpose.  We've been down this path before in 2016/17, when we looked at a number of potential temporary and permanent sites, and we have experience of screening in the Town Hall and Vic Park, which are also unsuitable.  Moving a cinema is not like moving a gift shop, it has particular requirements in terms of height, space, soundproofing etc.  That is why, after a huge community campaign to save the cinema in 2017, the Council agreed to include it in the Rex redevelopment, because they knew there was no other suitable building in Daylesford.
 
We believe the Council should have consulted with Daylesford Community Theatre and the broader community about the intention to abandon the Rex project and sell the building.  Check out Council's Community Engagement policy and see what Council should be guided by in these matters.
I would refer you to the section Level of Engagement Matrix on pages 8, 9 & 10
https://hdp-au-prod-app-hep-participate-files.s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/1316/1413/1926/Hepburn_Shire_-_Community_Engagement_Policy.pdf
 
On any reading of the policy, the Rex project meets the criteria of high Strategic Importance, high Impact and with high Community Sentiment, therefore, there should have been consultation prior to making such a shocking, final decision to end the project.
 
We encourage you, and any other community member who feels concerned, to make a complaint to all Councillors and the CEO.  Please frame your letter as a complaint (because there is a particular process in local councils for dealing with a complaint as opposed to voicing concern).  Contact details are:
 
Cr Jen Bray  jbray@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Cr Lesley Hewitt  lhewitt@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Cr Brian Hood  bhood@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Cr Tessa Halliday  thalliday@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Cr Juliet Simpson  jsimpson@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Cr Don Henderson  dhenderson@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Cr Tim Drylie  tdrylie@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Bradley Thomas (CEO)  bthomas@hepburn.vic.gov.au
Administration (Complaints System)  shire@hepburn.vic.gov.au
 
This takes me back to 2017 when we were petitioning the Council to save the cinema.  Have they learnt nothing!!
 
Regards
Gina
on behalf of the Committee