Big crowd farewells Ecohouse

IT WAS both a farewell and a protest.

On Saturday close to 500 Bellingen Shire residents gathered to pay their respects to local recycling icon Ecohouse which, following the loss of the council's waste management contract will close its doors on July 31 after 14 years of community service.

As one resident, Daniel Maher, put it: "We have come to pay our respects to Ecohouse, she was a part of the fabric of our community, she helped us live more consciously and she will be sadly missed".

But the meeting was also a public protest.

Residents wanted to send a clear message to council staff and councillors that they were not happy with the decision to award the contract to the cheapest tender.

Francis Young was outraged.

"How can they place price over the value of people and jobs and this special community enterprise?" Ms Francis asked.

Another resident, Gaie Condon, highlighted the council's hypocrisy.

"They tell us to shop locally and now they've sold us out to a Coffs Harbour company," Ms Condon said. "This is amalgamation by stealth."

Health care professional Thea O'Connor said community connectedness was vital to people's well being.

"This decision removes something from the community to which people felt very connected. Why is social impact not factored into the tender assessment process?"

Ecohouse co-owners Thomas Luck and Michaela Levy were angry about the decision-making process.

"By not stipulating a waste minimisation target, the council has allowed a bias against holistic waste management," Mr Luck said.

"I guarantee the new contractors (AARVBEE) won't be making their money the way we've done. They are subsidiaries of the huge corporation Smorgons and are supplying them with a scrap metal yard."

Ms Levy questioned where the 'saved' $2million would go?

"Will we see these savings reflected in our rates?" she asked.

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