CHEAP DEAL: Gladstone Men's Shed will have to buy the land for their new shed before the Public Trustee will release the money. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
CHEAP DEAL: Gladstone Men's Shed will have to buy the land for their new shed before the Public Trustee will release the money. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA160615LAND

Council selling land cheap to Men's Shed to get funds

PUBLIC land will be sold for "something like a dollar" to secure $1 million in community funding from the Public Trustee for Gladstone Men's Shed.

Gladstone Regional councillors say they have been forced into selling council-owned land in Moura Cres, Barney Point, earmarked for the Men's Shed, or risk having the shed's funding application rejected again.

The Men's Shed Association wants the $1m to build a permanent, bigger shed, which has already been approved by the council.

In March last year the association applied to the Gladstone Foundation.

The foundation board of advice recommended the grant be approved, but it was knocked back by the Public Trustee.

The association claims the Public Trustee has advised any application for funding would be rejected again, unless the Men's Shed has freehold tenure over the land.

The Public Trustee is reportedly concerned that without this, the assets developed on the land could revert to Gladstone Regional Council once the lease on the land expires.

The Men's Shed effectively had a 30-year lease on the proposed site.

But now the land will be sold to the association, for a fraction of its worth, to secure the funding.

Mayor Gail Sellers said yesterday the land would be sold to the Men's Shed for "something like a dollar", but that deal would include provisions to make sure ratepayers didn't lose their asset.

"We definitely won't be charging them market value," Cr Sellers said.

"It's a sad old world when we have bureaucrats in Brisbane dictating to our community when it's the people here in Gladstone who are fully aware of what we need here.

The deal includes a mortgage attached to the land, which will ensure it can't be used for any other purpose than Men's Shed business without consent from the council.

That means it can't be sold to a third party or used for anything other than community purposes.

Cr Sellers said she thought the Public Trustee was doing its best to make sure the money didn't end up in government hands, but it was ignoring the advice of the advisory board.

In the second round of funding, the foundation's board of advice recommended money be released to the Men's Shed Association and also to Communities 4 Children.

Both were rejected.

Only two projects have benefited from the foundation fund so far.

Anglicare was given $2.4m and Medibank Health Solutions Telehealth, $2.2m, an organisation privatised this year.



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