A LAST ditch attempt to save the Melville bowls club from relocation backfired this week when unhappy members were outgunned by supporters of a wave park.
A group of bowlers forced an electors meeting at Melville council on Wednesday night in an attempt to try to convince the council to overturn its decision to move the bowling club to a nearby sporting hub on Tompkins Park.
Former federal MP George Gear and former East Fremantle mayor Tim Smith led the charge, claiming the council had bullied the bowlers into reluctantly accepting the decision. They say it’s deeply unpopular at the club.
But they were taken by surprise by a big turn-out of surfers determined to endorse a council’s decision to support Wave Park Group’s proposal.
In another twist mayor Russell Aubrey revealed the wave park supporters had submitted a motion before the bowlers, and therefore went first. Their motion got through about 60 votes to 40, effectively making the bowlers’ motion redundant.
Mr Smith and Mr Gear claim their opponents hijacked their meeting with crowds of people who weren’t verified as Melville residents (including children and teenagers).
“Out of the blue, the mayor and CEO Shayne Silcox said the wave park motion was received first. Well hang on, we didn’t even know about it,” Mr Smith said.
To add to the bowlers’ anger, when Mr Gear’s five minutes to speak for his motion were up and he asked for an extension, the wave park supporters howled him down.
“I think once local residents see how much of Tompkins park is going to be swallowed up, they’ll be shocked,” Mr Gear said.“The whole character of Tompkins park will change dramatically. It’s a wide open space now, and in a city where open spaces are a premium it’s madness to be building on those.”
But local surfer Lorne Campbell, who lives on Coverly Street within eyeshot of the wave park site, reckons it’ll be a “jewel” in Melville’s crown, and put forward the motion to endorse the council’s decision.
“I think it’ll be very progressive, Perth desperately needs some progressive facilities,” Mr Campbell said.
“There’s an awful lot of conservative attitudes in Perth.
“Perth is a great place but it’s a bit dead. This wave park will potentially be a fantastic social and sporting hub”.
Meanwhile Mr Smith and Mr Gear have collected enough signatures to force another meeting of the bowling club to vote on the issue. They say a previous mail-out ballot was unconstitutional.
But the meeting has irked the bowling club’s committee, with the club’s president writing to members this week alerting them to the meeting but vowing that the entire committee would resign if members didn’t support the council’s plan to move them to the sporting hub.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM