Simon Murray and Susan Law explain why Armidale Regional Council is selling former Guyra shire assets

Armidale Regional Council CEO Susan Law and mayor Simon Murray.
Armidale Regional Council CEO Susan Law and mayor Simon Murray.

Council's decision to sell former Guyra shire assets has dismayed some locals.

The Kolora Hostel, and houses in Sunburst Avenue and Pearson Street for doctors, engineers, and the former Guyra council general manager have been advertised with real estate agents.

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The sales, Gordon Youman said, are gutting the community.

"To see that taken away from us, and go somewhere else, is absolutely wrong," he said.

His Save and Grow Guyra Group believes that proceeds will be used to balance council deficit, or be spent on the airport, rather than remaining in Guyra.

Guyra resident Gordon Youman.

Guyra resident Gordon Youman.

These properties, council CEO Susan Law explained, had not been used for a long time, and cost council money to upkeep.

Selling these assets - and similar properties in Armidale considered surplus to requirements - provided money for general works and maintenance around the region.

"We sell properties all the time, ones that are no longer needed for whatever reason, to realise the cash so that we can spend it elsewhere," Ms Law said. "There's no point in spending money and having your capital locked up if you don't need to."

The Guyra general manager's house, for instance, had been empty for years, but council paid to maintain it and mow the lawns. The house was worth between $200,000 and $300,000 - but that sum was tied up in the house, doing nothing.

"To sell it makes good sense for a council," Ms Law said.

Nor, as Mr Youman claimed, did the properties belong to Guyra residents; they were Guyra council assets that then became Armidale Regional Council assets after the merger.

The Kolora Hostel was built by public subscription - but Guyra shire council took over all liabilities for it some time back, running it as a council-owned property. Even before the merger, Cr Murray said, they planned to sell it to contribute to the cost of the new Kolora facility.

Armidale Regional Council did not distinguish between Guyra and Armidale assets, but used the money as needed, not unequally between Guyra and Armidale, Ms Law emphasised.

"To continue to beat the Guyra drum is really a bit nonsensical, because we've got a single set of accounts." She doubted the auditor-general would be pleased if council kept separate Guyra and Armidale accounts.

Armidale Regional Council could not, she explained, operate on the basis of a speculative demerger.

"It's not Guyra and Armidale Dumaresq, it's Armidale Regional," Ms Law said. "That's a fact, and that's what we have to live with now."