Campaspe Shire’s Cr Leigh Wilson has warned Rochester will not tolerate the Murray Goulburn factory being left abandoned and unused in the centre of the town.
The former factory closed last week, throwing about 100 people out of work.
Murray Goulburn extended the factory across one of the town’s streets many years ago and some older residents who remember the sacrifice are not happy the company has wound down operations.
‘‘We gave up the street, an old church and several businesses had to shift. It’s slap-bang in the middle of our town,’’ Cr Wilson said.
He said the town would be pushing the proposed new owners of Murray Goulburn to either sell the site or use it.
He said the Leitchville situation would be unpalatable to the community.
The former Murray Goulburn factory at Leitchville closed down years ago, but the company has refused to allow other businesses to use it.
‘‘We’ll be working hard to see that does not happen here,’’ Cr Wilson said.
Murray Goulburn has told Country News the future of the Leitchville factory would be a matter for the new owner, Saputo.
Cr Wilson said the shire was undertaking the biggest strategic study ever carried out for Rochester to see what opportunities there were for growth. The report could take a few more months to complete.
He was confident this would lead to longer term investment in the town.
Whether a dairy company is interested in the old factory is not a major concern for Cr Wilson.
‘‘I have been advocating for some time that we move away from water-intensive industries and look at other industries,’’ Cr Wilson said.
He said there had been some difficulties in recent years with developing water-based industries in the region and now was the time to look elsewhere.
‘‘We have had a chicken hatchery established on the outskirts of town and that has provided about 20 jobs,’’ he said.
The Rochester community has been disappointed to see other dairy factories expanding in the Goulburn Valley, while Murray Goulburn was contracting.
‘‘It’s incredibly disappointing that everyone else seems to be able to move on, but our Australian-owned company seems to be going toes up,’’ Cr Wilson said.
Murray Goulburn said it had been actively engaged with the Rochester Open for Business Advisory Group since it was formed last June.
Cr Wilson said while the company was represented at the meetings, it could not provide any more information than was already publicly available.
He had a warning for Murray Goulburn or its successive owner if they neglected the site, and the town was left with no option but to campaign against the company.
‘‘Devondale could become Devonfail,’’ he said in reference to the dairy brand.
Asked about the mood in the town on the last day of operations, Cr Wilson said it was a sad moment, but most people were just glad to see it over with and wanted to move on.
‘‘We are a resilient community,’’ he said.
‘‘We will survive.’’