Newcastle council votes to sell retirement centres

NEWCASTLE council will sell off three of its retirement centres in an effort to reduce its infrastructure backlog.

The council expects the sale of Allambie Court in New Lambton, Kiah Court in Jesmond and Carinya Court in New Lambton will be carried out some time in the next 18 months to two years.

Although the centres made a small profit last financial year, the council estimates it would need to spend $1 million in maintenance over the next 10 years to keep them up to scratch.

The sell-off plan divided councillors at last week's council meeting, with deputy mayor Brad Luke using his casting vote to break the 6-6 deadlock while lord mayor Jeff McCloy was on leave.

Cr Michael Osborne said he was disappointed by the priorities of the current council compared to previous councils.

"Providing services for older people is not as sexy as providing footpaths around beaches," he said, referring to a proposed $5 million cliff-top walk around Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach.

He said the council should be looking for federal grants to help fix up the properties instead of "throwing away" its responsibilities.

Cr Stephanie Posniak said it was a waste of council money to spend $50,000 in legal costs to sell the centres off when they did not need to be sold in the first place.

Cr Sharon Waterhouse said she was certain the retirement centre residents would be protected when their homes were sold to a private operator.

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