Kurrie pound duties shift to Rutherford

The Advertiser, 29 June 2011
The Kurri animal shelter, or more commonly known as the pound, will cease to operate with council entering into an agreement with the RSPCA at Rutherford to take over the role on behalf of the council.
A report to the last council meeting advise that the General Manager has confirmed with the RSPCA council’s interest in entering into a formal agreement for a five year period with an option for a further five years.
Council will now enter into the proposed agreement with the RSPCA NSW without calling tenders as it considers a satisfactory result would not be achieved by inviting tenders because of extenuating circumstances and the unavailability of competitive or reliable tenders for the following reasons:
a. The RSPCA is the only organisation available within the area that has an industry best practice regional animal shelter capable of providing the professional animal care and management required of council under legislative requirements;
b. Part of the RSPCA’s core business is to set up and provide professional animal management services to Local Government;
c. Council has an immediate and critical need to address operational requirements and occupational health and safety concerns as addressed in the accompanying report; and
d. The entry into this contract provides a significant economic benefit to the Council over the term of the contract when compared to the cost of Council providing its own facility.
The lengthy document goes on to say:
Council currently operates its own animal shelter on Crown Land under the care, control and management of council. The site has been used as a public pound for about 50 years.
Reports to Council over the past 18 months and a briefing to council in February this year highlighted a number of issues with the existing animal shelter. Some of the more critical concerns are:
The Land and Property Management Authority have advised that they will not consent to any further improvements and/or works on the current site (including animal shelter facilities, kennel improvements, etc) until the following issues relating to contamination, approved use of reserve and aboriginal land claim are resolved:
The animal shelter is constructed on a disused sanitary depot site. The site has been used by council as a sanitary depot for about 100 years and ceased operation in 2002. The site has identified contamination issues related to this former use. An environmental audit was commissioned through Coffey Environments and a draft Preliminary Contamination Assessment has identified that the site is not suitable for commercial/industrial use due to past use of the site as a sanitary depot, burial of nightsoil, use of coal tar in sanitary pans, and storage of fuels and oils.
Coffey Environments have also identified options for closing the site, placing it under administrative control and ongoing monitoring, or full remediation of the site for commercial/industrial use.
Further investigation is required to identify health concerns for workers on the site. The environmental audit is being managed by the Environmental and Waste Services Manager as the asset owner for the previous sanitary depot.
The timeframe to process the aboriginal land claim could be up to 2 years, possibly longer and the cost estimates identified in the Coffey Environments preliminary contamination assessment for rehabilitation of the site range from $155,000 to $250,000.
The capital cost to council to provide its own new best practice Animal Shelter would be at least three times greater than a one off Facility Access Fee (capital cost) to enter into the Deed of Agreement with the RSPCA. This does not include the cost of land or any loan repayments if loan funding was used for council’s new best practice Animal Shelter. Council should also be aware that at this time suitable land has not been identified or found for a new Council managed Animal Shelter.
The cost to Council for the yearly fixed management is significantly less than the cost for council to manage its own best practices animal shelter.
The cost of council setting up its own animal shelter was provided to councillors in a confidential report that focused on a detailed business case.

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1 Comment

Filed under NSW, RSPCA

One response to “Kurrie pound duties shift to Rutherford

  1. companionanimalnews

    This was sent to us by a local campaigner anxious to influence Cessnock Council to review all avenues before procedeing with the RSPCA NSW.:

    The Irregularities of Cessnock Council’s contract with the RSPCA
    Cessnock Council passed a resolution at their 8 December 2010 meeting calling for negotiations with the RSCPA in respect to a contract to outsource their impounding services. At no time did they consult local boarding kennel operators, animal rescue groups, nor general members of the public to seek any public consultation and advice from other experts in the field. This was their first violation of the NSW Local Government Act which states in Section 8:
    to facilitate the involvement of councillors, members of the public, users of facilities and services and council staff in the development, improvement and co-ordination of local government.
    Furthermore, by not calling for a public expression of interest, they’re in violation of Section 55 (4):
    A council that invites tenders from selected persons only is taken to comply with the requirements of this section if those persons are selected:
    (a) from persons who have responded to a public advertisement for expressions of interest in the particular contract for which tenders are being invited, or
    (b) from persons who have responded to a public advertisement for recognition as recognised contractors with respect to contracts of the same kind as that for which tenders are being invited.
    Needless to say they never did any of this. The Council, however, claimed this excuse in Section 55 (3):
    a contract where, because of extenuating circumstances, remoteness of locality or the unavailability of competitive or reliable tenderers, a council decides by resolution (which states the reasons for the decision) that a satisfactory result would not be achieved by inviting tenders
    The Council, however, has done nothing to support this claim as I personally contacted all of the boarding kennel operators, throughout the district, as well as the contractor who operates Port Stephens pound, not to mention various members of the animal rescue groups. All said that same thing: no-one from Council had contacted them about viable alternatives to the Council run pound, yet a local board kennel operator, after discovering the situation, wrote a letter to Council demanding the right to tender. This letter was ignored.
    Similarly hundreds of emails and letters protesting this situation, including written legal opinion by my solicitor, were all ignored by both Council management and the majority of Councillors. On 15 June 2011 Council thus passed the resolution 9-1 in favour of the RSPCA contract, even though Recommendation 16, of the infamous Section 430 Report of 2009, states quite clearly that the Council should build a new pound themselves. Nothing is mentioned about outsourcing it to a third party.
    Elsewhere there are also problems with Council’s position. Out of no-where they got themselves a quote of $2.2 million for a new pound, but ask anyone around, whether it be the animal rescue groups, the boarding kennel operators, even a few builders, and everyone is dumbstruck as to where this figure came from as estimates between $250 000 to $600 000 are more common. Similarly it seems that the required three quotes policy, which Council is supposed to follow, has been ignored.
    Other than that two complaints have been lodged with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission in regards to this contract, as it will ensure that the RSPCA at Rutherford will gain control of 85-90% of the impounding services market in the region, whilst it will likewise gain the same control of the market for re-adoption services. This is in violation of Section 45 of the Competition and Consumers Act. Similarly, the RSPCA refuses to have anything to do with animal rescue groups, and as a result the various groups will no longer be able to save dogs and cats from the Cessnock district, and their fate will rest with the RSPCA which has a much higher kill rate than the current Cessnock pound located in Kurri Kurri (51.5% state wide average against 31.4% at Kurri). Add on the intimidation tactics, which the RSPCA employs against foster carers of the rescue groups, plus its market power in stopping a new entrant into the market place, and we’re talking a violation of Section 46 the Act.
    All in all Cessnock Council has, by its willingness to break the law, brought on a huge mess which it is trying to wriggle its way out of. This will be the fourth time, in eight years, it has been caught and I truly wonder how many laws Cessnock Council needs to break before it is sacked. Meanwhile the RSPCA is only after one thing – the contract worth at least $2.5 million. Anything else comes a distant second.

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