Blayney councillors vote to spend $50,000 a year on regional tourism bid | Poll

Blayney Shire Council has voted to provide $50,000 annually for three years to support Central West tourism.

Council was invited to help develop a regionally focused Tourism Development Organisation (TDO) which includes Orange City Council and Cabonne Council, as well as members of Brand Orange and the tourism industry.

The TDO’s budget is estimated at $850,000 annually with half contributed by industry.

However, councillor Geoff Braddon believed the $50,000 could be better spent elsewhere.

“The ratepayers out there, that we supposedly represent, wouldn’t be happy with us spending money, especially when it goes to Orange and Cabonne,” Cr Braddon said.

“We shouldn’t make decisions now when we’ve only got a few months or less before we elect a new council.”

Cr Braddon was the only dissenting voice, with other councillors supporting the plan which would provide more value than council acting alone.

“Tourism brings a lot of money into this shire, it creates a lot of jobs,” Cr Kevin Radburn said.

“It would be foolish not to take the opportunity to piggy back with Cabonne and Orange. A lot of people come to Orange and Cabonne and visit neighbouring shires.

“We’re not paying that much more than we would otherwise.”

Blayney had originally been asked to provide $90,000 a year, however council staff recommended a lower figure based on the shire’s tourism output.

The $50,000 will include membership of the TDO for every tourism business in the shire.

Membership of the TDO also saves council $8300 each year as it combines existing memberships of Brand Orange and FOOD Week.

“It’s a conservative approach but we’re hopeful of huge returns to Blayney, not only for tourism but promoting the region as a brand, that will help drive economic development,” mayor Scott Ferguson said.

Cr Ferguson said it was serious commitment over three years and while Blayney had a seat on the board, there were no instant results.

“It’s a collective effort,” Cr Ferguson said.

“Businesses won’t feel as though they’re working in isolation.

“If we spend $50,000 [alone] it would be a ripple, we need to get people to the region.”