The Riverine Herald

Horses for courses not on track at saleyards

- By Vivienne Duck

THE ship may have sailed for Andrew Wilson at Echuca saleyards.

The horse agent, who has been staging Australia’s largest regular horse sale in Echuca each fortnight, is packing up and moving on to Shepparton — if Campaspe Shire doesn’t come to the negotiatin­g table.

But there appears to be a significan­t discrepanc­y between the parties as to how much money is being generated at the yards.

Mr Wilson said he received a new user agreement — yet to be signed — on Christmas Eve.

‘‘They have basically told us to sign the new lease or get out,’’ Mr Wilson told the Riv.

‘‘All of a sudden we went from a two-page agreement to a 12-page agreement, which says to keep the yards open after 4pm we have to fork out $200 an hour.

‘‘It is like the tail is wagging the dog and the ratepayers in Campaspe Shire shouldn’t have to lose out on such a big investment just because they don’t want to stay open after a certain time.

‘‘We sell up to 150 horses every fortnight and bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars to not just the shire but to local businesses.

‘‘The 300 plus people who come from across the country to buy horses here have to sleep, have to eat and most of them love a beer or two.’’

Mr Wilson has been trading at the saleyards for eight years and said the council was already bleeding more than $600,000.

‘‘We give about $70,000 to $100,000 annually to the council but they are looking at around $700,000 loss if we leave, which includes the $600,000 loss they are currently operating with,’’ he said.

‘‘Everyone knows about the Echu- ca horse sales and if we go so does all our business from the town.’’

But the council boss doesn’t seem worried by the potential loss.

‘‘The Echuca and District Livestock Exchange currently hosts three cattle sales and four horse sales per month,’’ Campaspe Shire chief executive Jason Russell said.

‘‘Nine agents operate at the exchange, seven cattle agents and two horse agents.

‘‘Across the 2016/17 financial year, 28,830 cattle were sold, and 3310 horses were sold.

‘‘The exchange generates revenue back to council of approximat­ely $500,000, of which around 10 per cent is attributab­le to Mr Wilson’s fortnightl­y horse sale.

‘‘If Mr Wilson elects to leave the exchange, council is confident it will attract another agent.’’

Mr Russell said all agents have an annual user agreement which outlines the conditions of use.

‘‘This includes insurance requiremen­ts, licence fees, use of the office space and obligation­s relating to the sale of livestock,’’ he said.

‘‘Of the nine agents, eight have signed the annual user agreement.

‘‘Horse sales are conducted by Mr Wilson on a fortnightl­y basis, where he has sole access to the facility on the day of sale.

‘‘Council charges $400 per day for the exclusive use of the facility.

‘‘In accordance with the agreement, horse sales operate between 6.30am through to 4pm.’’

But in the new agreement Mr Wilson will be forced to hand over $200 per hour after 4pm.

‘‘In line with the new agreement on the table, a charge of $200 per hour is applicable to keep the facility open and operationa­l after 4pm,’’ Mr Russell said. ‘‘Council has been working with Mr Wilson in regards to his annual user agreement to resolve a number of concerns.’’

And Mr Wilson said instead of holding his horse sale at Echuca on Friday he will leave for Shepparton.

 ??  ?? NO HORSING AROUND: On Friday, February 9, more than 300 people attended what might be the last Echuca horse sale under Andrew Wilson's name.
NO HORSING AROUND: On Friday, February 9, more than 300 people attended what might be the last Echuca horse sale under Andrew Wilson's name.

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