Time running out for mill workers
FOUR Bostobrick families are facing eviction on New Year's Eve. Ron Belmore says he has been keeping worry at bay by building a fence between him and his neighbour, even though he knows he may have to leave it. "It keeps me busy," said the 67-year-old former mill worker and keen gardener, who wants to enjoy his retirement in Bostobrick. "The materials didn't really cost me anything, so it's just my time." But he says New year's Eve is approaching rapidly and he still hasn't heard anything from Boral about their plans for his home. Mr Belmore is living in one of the nine houses owned by Boral Timber and rented to workers at the company's Bostobrick timber mill, which closed on July 28 with the loss of 22 jobs, including his. Workers were initially told they would have to leave the houses a fortnight after the mill closed, which would have left the mill village in Muldiva Road deserted. But after an outcry, Boral management said the workers, at least four of whom want to buy their houses, could remain for the time being. But their rental agreements expire on December 31. Early this week Bellingen Shire Council staff said the next move towards giving the mill workers permanent tenure of their homes had to come from Boral. The general manager of Boral Timber, Peter Boyd, said Boral was speaking directly to the residents, several of whom said they had not heard anything from Boral at that stage. But yesterday one resident said one former mill worker had been contacted by Boral on Thursday. Bellingen Shire Council had not received any application from Boral by late Friday afternoon. Bellingen Shire's director of environmental health and planning, Simon Waterworth, said Bostobrick's present rural zoning did not permit residential subdivision and this would have to be done under State Environmental Planning Policy 1, special circumstances. The Bostobrick mill site and the nine houses are on one parcel of land, although the company has been receiving 11 separate rate notices.