Council boots workers with disabilities out of recycling hub
A REYCLING centre which provides meaningful work for 65 disabled people will have to find a new home after Council decided to throw open part of its premises to general bookings.
Monique Lowndes started eWaste Connection to give her son something to do after he left school.
It has since grown to a major hub for recycling electrical goods from vacuum cleaners to PCs, six days a week, and has been a valuable respite service for parents - which costs taxpayers and ratepayers nothing to run.
But last year tenant the Churches of Christ, which informally allowed eWaste to sublease two buildings on the Brookfield Rd, Kenmore site, vacated and Council put the entire space to tender.
Ms Lowndes said after being "brushed off'' by Councillor Kate Richards and Cr Peter Matic, who sits on the committee responsible for the tender, they have now been told they will have to compete to use the larger of the two spaces (building 1) they had been occupying.
She said the smaller space (building 2) was far too small for the workers and to store the electrical goods.
"We provide work for 65 people with a disability and at the same time are helping the environment,'' she said.
"Council has said we can book building 1, but we have disabled people who need access to toilets and we can't just pack up all our stuff every day.
"Parking has always been a big issue here as well.
"We looked at a house (in the area) but an agent said they had an offer of $650,000.
"We can't afford that, and we'd have to seek a material change of use to be able to operate there.''
A Council spokeswoman said Cr Richards and Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner were both approached by "various community groups'' wanting to use the Brookfield Rd site.
"Council went to tender to seek community group interest in the vacant space,'' she said.
"Given the significant interest, Council determined it will convert (building 1) into a community meeting room for booking by a wider range of groups, rather than allocate the space to a specific organisation.
"Council will therefore be extending the existing licences for Kenmore Bridge Club and eWaste Connection in their current locations.''
Ms Lowndes said a drumming group, which was also often used by people with disabilities, had shared their former space and would now have to compete with other groups for bookings.
"Our workshop is about 30 sqm but have lost access to about 130 sqm of office and storage space,'' she said.
"When we have 16 people trying to work on electrical items around work benches, it can become a bit crazy.
"We have had to relocate everything from that (130sqm) area, into our already overcrowded storage/sorting room and the workshop - or on to the floor in my home office.''