MERCURY newspaper columnist Leo Schofield has at last lifted the lid on the neglect of the Willow Court historic site. Writing in his weekly column in yesterday’s issue, Schofield drew attention the failure of the Derwent Valley Council to protect and promote the site.
“The owners of the site, Derwent Valley Council, have a program called Valley Vision, but to date little vision is evident,” Schofield wrote. He went on to call on the State Government to intervene immediately, declare the site one of national importance, and take over its management and planning.
It certainly could be said that after eight years, the council has had more than enough time to develop the site. Responding to questions at last week’s council annual general meeting, Mayor Tony Nicholson continued to blame the Federal Government and the Tasmanian Heritage Council.
Mayor Nicholson told the AGM that the council’s plans for Willow Court had been stymied by the loss of Federal funds (which were withdrawn after remaining unspent for several years) and the actions of the Heritage Council (which had blocked the demolition of several historic buildings). When asked how much money had been raised through the sale of a large part of Willow Court several years ago, and why this had not been enough to kick-start the redevelopment process, Mayor Nicholson declined to answer and took the question on notice.