Murray Shire mayor Tom Weyrich says his decision to step in to avert the fire sale of Mathoura’s former supermarket was in the best interests of the community.TRENT HORNEMAN April 3, 2014 4:50am
An 11th-hour effort by Murray Shire has averted a fire sale of stock and fittings from Mathoura’s former supermarket.
An advertisement in Country News on March 25 said Melbourne-based auctioneer Lockwood planned to sell more than 200 lots from the Livingstone St business.
Murray Shire mayor Tom Weyrich rallied the support of fellow councillors and shire staff to potentially buy the lot and save it in its entirety for potential investors.
His attempt to contact Lockwood and firms involved in the liquidation resulted in a bank halting the sale.
Lockwood agent Jason Gollant confirmed the sale would not go ahead until he received instructions from parties handling the matter.
Cr Weyrich said, if required, he would have been prepared to spend ratepayers’ money to buy the fittings and stock.
Stock included a deli fridge, supermarket trolleys, ovens, a cappuccino machine and forklifts.
At a Murray Shire meeting yesterday, councillors Gen Campbell and Geoff Mackenzie expressed their reluctance to use ratepayers’ money for this purpose.
Cr Weyrich said there was no need for concern given the fire sale did not eventuate.
He said two businesses had shown interest in restoring the town’s only supermarket.
The supermarket, along with a bakery and bed and breakfast, closed in February.
He said the bank’s decision to defer the sale could allow interested parties to make an offer.
Cr Weyrich said he had the best interests of the Mathoura community at heart.
‘‘We are not in the business of running a supermarket, but we are in the business of looking after the community and that was just what this decision was about,’’ he said.
‘‘I felt as though I was duty-bound to make this decision. While I had not managed to speak with all councillors, I felt as though I had enough support to stick my neck out on this.’’
Cr Weyrich was critical of Lockwood for its handling of the sale.
‘‘It was almost without warning. The swiftness of the sale is staggering. (I saw it) advertised in the paper on Friday and the auction was on Tuesday,’’ he said.
‘‘The staff at Murray Shire did a magnificent job in working to achieve an outcome.
‘‘The amount of money was achievable and viable. It was enough to allow us to go into bat for the community.’’
‘‘The community has learnt that in order to have business in town, the locals have to support it.
‘‘Mathoura has been around for a long time and it is not going anywhere, but like most places in rural and regional Australia it is suffering.’’
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