Castlemaine gaol fight 'not over'

RESIDENTS opposed to the sale of the historic Old Castlemaine Gaol have vowed to keep up the fight.

The Mount Alexander Shire  Council voted to sell the heritage-listed site to a consortium for $550,000 at this week’s council meeting.

The decision came amid strong community opposition led by The Friends of Old Castlemaine Gaol.

Group leader Doug Falconer said the council had made a big mistake, but the battle was not over.

“It would be fair to say that we’re a bit shattered,” he said.

“But this was always one of the possible outcomes.

“We knew this might happen so we just have to reassess where we can go from here.

“We’re currently considering what’s next – we have a number of possibilities in mind.”

Mayor Janet Cropley yesterday claimed the group had been “drummed up” and objections to the sale had been led by “10 people with a lot of passion”.

“I’ve had phone calls saying I should stop them intimidating people at the market, etcetera,” she said.

“I’ve actually had lots of people congratulating us about making the right decision which is unusual because you don’t really hear from people saying that. 

“You usually hear from them when they don’t agree with what you’ve done.”

Mr Falconer said 120 people spoke up at a marathon public meeting on Monday night, designed to enable people to air their concerns one last time.

“All but one was against the sale,” he said.

“For the mayor to say there are 10 people driving this is a furphy.

“They’d love to think it was just me and a few mates and then they could just dismiss us as a bunch of hot-heads.

“But in any campaign you have people who are putting in the work on behalf of everyone else.”

The gaol is now set to be sold to a group of three local businessmen who plan to redevelop the heritage-listed site and build townhouses on the surrounding land.

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