“We own it” says St John
Wednesday, 3rd November, 2021
By Andrew Lodiong
St John Ambulance NSW believes it has the right to sell the hall in Broken Hill despite backlash from locals.
When questioned about legal ownership of the venue by The Barrier Truth, St John stated it “owns the title of the land” and is listed in Land Registry Services records.
The charity is confident it has substantial grounds to auction off the building at 237 South Road - the decision to sell the building was based on its renovation requirements, underutilisation and not being able to meet the needs of local members.
Proceeds from the sale had been earmarked for upgrades to the not-for-profit’s new facility.
“The move to merge our two locations into one means that our Cadet and Adult members have a place to learn first aid skills, train together, and conduct their weekly meetings,” Broken Hill Superintendent Lyndon Pace said.
“The funds from selling South Road will help fund critical upgrades to the facility including vehicle storage for our new vehicles and replacing the old heating and cooling systems.”
The investment into the upgraded facility aims to continue to give back and benefit the wider community.
“St John has had a long-standing position within the Broken Hill community for many years, and we look forward to building on the great work of our members in years past,” Superintendent Pace said.
“All of our local members have joined St John Ambulance because they have an affinity for volunteering, giving back to their local community, and making a difference.”
A joint letter (dated October 29) addressed to St John Ambulance NSW CEO Sarah Lance by the APEX Club and former first aid representatives calls for the immediate return of the asset.
The recent uproar, triggered by the auction advert last week, came to the surprise of the health service provider.
Head office management claim they had contacted the APEX Club on March 17 “as a courtesy” and informed the group in writing of its plans to put the hall up for sale.
According to St John, the APEX Club had “acknowledged and responded” to the communication.
The APEX Club, with the support of concerned community members, remains determined to retain the asset and have taken swift action to achieve that outcome.
A crisis meeting with stakeholders held last Friday resulted in a Caveat being submitted under the New South Wales Real Property Act 1900.
The Caveat means the auction that was scheduled for tomorrow will not go ahead.
St John Ambulance NSW will also launch an investigation to identify if it has any knowledge of a $5000 bank account and a Pro Hart artwork that disappeared when the first aid courses ended at the hall in 2016.
The original ‘St John – The Siege of Clerkenwell’ painting and other valuable equipment, such as training mannequins valued at $10000, was also expected to be returned when the hall was “wrongfully seized.”
It is not yet clear, if St John Ambulance NSW has officially responded to all the concerns raised in the letter sent late last week.