At the regular Council meeting held on 15 June 2021, Council received a confidential report on the Hepburn Hub at The Rex project and options available to to progress the project.

The construction of the project has not commenced despite the awarding of a building contract due to a dispute regarding the condition of the building and the agreed scope of works with the builder.

The report from Bruce MacIsaac, Director of Infrastructure and Development noted that some additional costs are likely to be associated with additional works to the existing building fabric not included in the original scope. The need for additional funding is being worked through by the Project Control Group and Council.

The CEO, Bradley Thomas, has been given 21 days to negotiate with the builder to resolve issues relating to the condition of the site, or termination of the contract will be enacted. Council will then proceed to a new procurement process to appoint a new contractor.

“We are aware that this is not what the community wants to hear, but we also understand the importance of delivering this transformational project,” said Mayor, Cr Lesley Hewitt. “Following the 21-day period (7 July) we will update the community on our progress.”

Cr Hewitt said that it is clear the current staff accommodation and customer service area are inadequate, and the library service in Daylesford does not cater adequately for our population and its projected growth.

“The Hepburn Hub at The Rex project will address these issues and deliver some important community spaces, including a community auditorium and co-working space,” said Cr Hewitt. “We understand the frustration of the community regarding the delays associated with this complex project, so we will be establishing a Project Advisory Group, including community members, to promote greater transparency.”

Council will develop terms of reference and a call for community representation will be made.

Local Government Inspectorate Report (Updated)

Council is still awaiting a report by the Local Government Inspectorate on the Hepburn Hub at the Rex project. The Wombat Post contacted the Inspectorate and was advised by a senior spokesman that a draft of the report had been circulated to council and concerned persons for comment. Comments have not yet been received from all parties and the final report will be delayed until all comments have been received. There are currently no timelines for release of the report.  The report may be delayed further if individuals or organisations named in the report request a delay or instigate legal action.

An earlier version of this story stated that the report would be released at the end of July. Steve Pogonowski, Senior Communications Advisor for the Local Government Inspectorate contacted the Wombat Post to correct the mis-statement about timelines made earlier.