A boat and a vote

THE Winthrop resident who moved a vote of no confidence in Melville council’s CEO, is in an ongoing battle with the city over damage to his boat.

Ian Rice claims his boat was permanently stained by a rogue council bore water sprinkler in Robert Smith Park in November last year, causing over $11,000 worth of damage.

Mr Rice says the sprinkler spray hit the top of his boat and streamed down the right-hand side, leaving brown streaks and damaging the roof fabric.

“The actual sprinkler jet was hitting the middle of the bimini and the water was then going all over it.”

He says he rang the council right away, and an irrigation technician came to fix the sprinkler the next day.

But when Mr Rice asked for compensation, he was directed to the city’s insurers who left him hanging over a month.

• Ian Rice and his damaged boat, which was worth $22,500 but has now been valued at $8000.

He was gobsmacked when they finally responded that there had been nothing wrong with the sprinkler and the damage was probably due to “spray drift” caused by easterly winds.

“I was beside myself,” says Mr Rice. “It’s not spray drift: spray drift will give an even coating on the boat, and that’s my western boundary. It’s not even coming from the right direction to be spray drift.”

Mr Rice says the city has pushed him from its insurers to its lawyers with no one offering compensation, so armed with a recording of the technician telling him that he was moving the sprinkler, he’s taking the city to court.

“I even told the council in a letter I’d accept $8000 for the damage if we could settle matters out of court,” he says.

A counter-offer of $4000 came back, attached to a gag order. He didn’t accept.

Mr Rice is particularly upset, as he wanted to sell his boat to help him cover medical costs for his daughter, Gabriella, 22, who has a connective tissue disorder.

“We had decided to have one last Christmas with the boat and then get rid of it,” he says.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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