All fired up: Gympie Council v Widgee Engineering
SUPPORT is gathering for local manufacturing firm Widgee Engineering as representatives of the business announce a second public meeting to openly discuss the situation with Gympie council later this month.
The meeting will be held at the Widgee Bushman's Bar on Saturday afternoon, February 17, and will double as a fundraiser for Widgee State School.
The 25-year-old business was given an ultimatum to move or risk closure on the back of a report tabled to Gympie Regional Council last year recommending the council refuse its retroactive material change of use application.
Supporters of the business gathered in Widgee last October to confront local and state government representatives about why the application was denied.
Widgee Engineering representative Malcolm Biegel said it was important to continue fighting for the rights of workers who could be out of a job if the issues were not resolved.
This month's meeting follows the circulation of a petition in support of the business which collected 2328 signatures.
"It's about public support,” Mr Biegel said.
"The business plays a big part in the town (Widgee) and the wider community.
"We have 70 suppliers that all come from Gympie so a lot of our day-to-day needs are met by Gympie businesses.
"If it was to close down the school could lose a teacher and the shop could have to put off staff. "It affects everybody,” he said.
Acting on council advice, Widgee Engineering resubmitted its material change of use application after it was given the option of either moving to another location with the support of council or going to court.
The business was given two years to relocate, but has said that doing so would cost millions
Its application is now open for public comment and on display on the council's website. Public exhibition will close on Friday, February 23 when submissions will be compiled into a report to be presented to councillors.
They will then decide whether to approve it or refuse it. Mr Biegel says the firm has turned away business, resulting in the lose of millions of dollars in revenue, due to the uncertain nature of its future. He said the people of Widgee Engineering were not coping. "It has taken a huge toll,” he said.
Council said it was important for local business to "succeed and grow,” stating it will offer Widgee Engineering employees help if the business closes. "Should this occur, council's Gympie futures team will offer employees career development support,” a spokeswoman said.