MELVILLE council has sent an internal review of its handling of a proposed wave park in Alfred Cove to the Corruption and Crime Commission.
Melville CEO Shayne Silcox told the Herald there had been recent allegations of misconduct against staff, but the review found nothing untoward and the council thought it prudent to let the CCC know.
Some of the allegations were raised in public at a special electors meeting on March 8, which was called after hundreds of ratepayers arced up over the council’s plans to lease a large section of Tompkins Park to Wave Park Group.
They centre around the relationship between WPG boss Andrew Ross and the council’s manager of health and leisure services, Todd Cahoon. Mr Cahoon had responsibility for reviewing the city’s bowling club strategy which led to a council proposal to move the Melville club from its current site, where Wave Park Group hopes to set up, to a new combined sports hub on Tompkins Park.
Mr Ross says the pair know each other and have mutual friends; Facebook images show them with arms around each other’s shoulders in a group photo at a wedding, and in another they are drinking together at a Bali resort.
But he says Mr Cahoon has not been involved in any discussions or meetings the group has had with the council.
“Wave Park Group has been discussing possible sites for a surf park in Perth with a variety of councils over the past four years, including the City of Melville,” Mr Ross told the Herald.
“The City of Melville announced the bowls strategy in early June 2016 which envisaged the relocation of the Melville Bowls Club.
“Once this was announced, we submitted a letter expressing our interest in that particular site in late June 2016.
“This initiated a series of discussions with the council, and a presentation on the proposal to elected members in August 2016.
“Wave Park Group received no information or assistance from Mr Cahoon in relation to the Tompkins Park proposal.”
In confidential minutes from a councillors’ briefing session in June 2015, seen by the Herald, Mr Cahoon was listed as due to give an “update on Wavegarden proposal” in a briefing a month later, but Dr Silcox says that never happened.
“With reference to the 2015 EMIS information provided to the Herald and not available online, the proposed future information session did not take place,” Dr Silcox told the Herald.
“It is troubling to me that selective and incomplete information has been provided to you.
“As CEO I would expect that any concern would be reported for investigation, at the very least to me, and if not to the appropriate agency with the relevant detail attached.
“This is a duty of care of any member of the community, council or officer.”
In a series of questions the Herald asked Dr Silcox: “Has Mr Cahoon ever had a business relationship with Mr Ross … or Wave Park Group or any other entity involved in Wave Park Group’s proposal?”
The council media department replied: “As already stated by CEO Dr Shayne Silcox an internal review on the allegations of misconduct was conducted, and no basis to support any allegations was found.”
Dr Silcox had earlier stated that Mr Cahoon “declared this interest to the city and has had no role in this matter at all” but didn’t answer when that declaration was made.
Mr Ross qualified his own statement by saying Mr Cahoon had no business links “at the time we submitted the unsolicited bid for the Tompkins Park proposal,” which was in September last year.
Meanwhile Melville councillors, who were briefed on the council’s internal review on Monday, have been summoned to a special council meeting scheduled for next Thursday to vote on WPG’s lease, having been given a briefing this week. The Herald understands they will only have two days to consider the final lease before voting on it.
by STEVE GRANT