Long battle for new Austinmer RFS station to be realised: Solution found to ‘bureaucratic nonsense’

The old Austinmer RFS station in Buttenshaw Drive

AFTER years of ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ Austinmer Rural Fire Service (RFS) looks set to find a new home at Thirroul.

The Bulli & Clifton Times can reveal that Wollongong City Council will enter into a ‘Heads of Agreement’ with the NSW Government to lease the preferred site at Sea Foam Avenue, Thirroul.

Austinmer RFS was forced to vacate their Buttenshaw Drive station, built in the 1970s, after continuing safety concerns.

A suitable piece of land at Thirroul, owned by Sydney Trains, was identified in 2015, and despite negotiation getting underway the following year, State authorities and Council have not been able to manage the transfer of the land to allow a start on the new fire station.

State MP for Keira, Ryan Park said the facility has been delayed for years because of the Government’s failure to sell the land to Council at below the market rate – despite the RFS being a NSW Government organisation.

Mr Park has told the Bulli & Clifton Times that an announcement could come as early as today and he paid tribute to Austinmer RFS members for their unwavering advocacy for the relocation of the station. He said he was relieved that years of campaigning and meeting with ministers and other representatives had finally resulted with a common sense solution that should have happened a long time ago.

“Finally, it appears as though basic common sense has prevailed, and the Government will be entering into a lease arrangement with Wollongong City Council that will see the urgent relocation of the Austinmer RFS to a site on Sea Foam Avenue,” Mr Park said.

“I want to thank Wollongong City Council for their ongoing work and effort to ensuring a more suitable location could be found. But I particularly pay credit to Gareth Fleming and his crew as well as other local community members who I have been working with for many years now to try and convince the NSW Government to show some understanding about the challenges faced by the local RFS.”  

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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