Wave of protest becomes tsunami

MELVILLE council is under pressure from both sides of the Alfred Cove wave park debate to dump its mail ballot of electors and start the process again.

Following a farcical electors meeting on January 23 when more than 600 people were sent home without being able to cast a vote, the council has been sending out voting slips to those who registered on the night. The slips ask if they support the wave park group getting a lease on Tompkins Park.

However, the Herald has fielded numerous calls from both supporters and opponents claiming there’d been a hiccup in receiving their ballots or they’d attended on the night but for a variety of reasons didn’t get registered.

Stephen Robertson says he was a fan of the wave park until he discovered how much of Tompkins Park it would take up. Concerned about losing the green space, he and his family attended the electors meeting.

But while the others received their ballots, he didn’t. When he contacted the council, it turns out because he and another family member share the same first initials, council officers thought someone had goofed up and struck one name off the list.

“They did send me out another one, but the covering letter is addressed to a Mr Lyle Underwood,” Mr Robertson said in disgust.

“If I hadn’t been pro-active I wouldn’t have received my ballot, and then they couldn’t get their facts correct.”

Long-time Alfred Cove resident Marie Finucane supports the wave park, although that’s tempered by her respect for the Swan Estuary Reserves Action Group and its concerns about the facility’s impact on the adjacent bird sanctuary. She says most of her friends are opposed and she’s expecting some ribbing once they find out about her views.

Slip inside

Ms Finucane, who still remembers Atwell House as a dairy and her brother building bikes from parts salvaged at the old tip at the end of Norma Road (east of the proposal), says while she managed to slip inside the meeting because of a disability, her daughter and son-in-law had to stay outside. When it became obvious there wouldn’t be a vote, they left. They reported others with budding surfers still in their pram joined them because they needed to get home. They weren’t aware at the time that names were being collected for the ballot.

Wave Park Group says its also fielded “many unsolicited emails” of a similar nature.

“Some said they were at the meeting, but when things started going downhill and it appeared that a fair voting process would be impossible, they left,” said Sasha Jones, director of the company’s PR consultants Blue Dog Communications.

“Others said they were en route, but had phone calls from others there saying that it was such a circus and they shouldn’t bother, because surely a vote wouldn’t be cast under these circumstances.

“If the council want to truly understand the community’s view, then this process is unfair and incorrect.”

The lease was the main item on Tuesday’s agenda briefing forum at Melville council, and the Alfred Cove Action Group is crying foul.

Denied an opportunity to address the meeting, the group says council staff also misrepresented their submissions so councillors are being denied access to all the facts.

ACAG member David Maynier says single-line electronic submissions generated in favour of the proposal were given equal weight to considered statements made by opponents.

“The city provided a bland list of issues for and against the wave park, omitting many major issues from the against list, especially any (and there were many of these) that may have implied criticism of the city management of the project to date,” Mr Maynier said.

by STEVE GRANT

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