The Mayor, Cr. John Coulton, has indicated that the Council shares the concern of the Warialda Primary School community about the adverse impact of falling student numbers on the present Primary School classification and the maintaining of a non teaching principal.
As a result the Council is working with a very active Warialda community group consisting of Wendy Mayne, Mikala Reardon, Peter Hancock and Doug Smith to explore the type of scheme that has been so successful at Cumnock in central NSW and how it could be transferred to Gwydir.
The Cumnock scheme was highlighted on a recent ABC1 Compass program.
The scheme promotes the renting out of unused rural dwellings for an attractively low rental to the prospective tenants, which may also include a commitment from the tenants to carry out restoration work during the initial 3 year tenancy.
‘Our aim is to encourage families to relocate into the Warialda area’ Cr. Coulton stated, ‘with our initial target being to increase the Warialda Primary School population by 10 children but, of course, we would like a significant population increase across the entire Shire’.
The Mayor pointed out that for the scheme to get off the ground, the support of the Warialda farming community is required, especially from those rural dwellers who have vacant houses on their properties.
As with the Cumnock scheme all the potential families would be screened for suitability according to the determined criteria in consultation with the participating property owners.
‘We are now seeking expressions of interests from any rural owner who is willing to consider participating in the scheme to create a data base of potential properties’.
The benefits to the house owners would include the restoration of perhaps neglected assets and a worthwhile contribution to this community effort to increase the Shire’s population’.
The Mayor noted ‘apart from making our Schools more viable it will also aid in increasing the untied grants that the Council receives which are often based on population numbers’.
The Council is organising a visit to the Cumnock community to see first hand the implementation of the scheme. This delegation will include members of the co-ordinating committee as well as the Mayor and Council staff.
‘If you have an unoccupied house on your property and you would like to learn more about the process and the benefits from participating please register your interest by ringing Ms Kellie Gill on 02 6724 2021 at Gwydir Shire’ the Mayor asked.
‘However, this call will not create any obligation on you to participate but rather just to learn more about the proposal’