LIKE the faithful on pilgrimage they came; near-on 800 souls streaming into Mt Pleasant’s Baptist church on Wednesday evening, praying for salvation from a proposed wave park in Alfred Cove.
A special meeting of electors forced on Melville council, it could have been a gathering of church elders as grey-haired sermonisers called on the city to hold off spending any more money on the controversial facility until after a looming local government department inquiry.
It was mostly a respectful and lively affair, though Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Mark McLerie danced with the devil during his presentation and criticism of CEO Shayne Silcox. He was ordered tersely back to his chair by mayor Russell Aubrey before he could reach his “punch line”.
For some it was a real baptism; Scott Green’s first council meeting found him in hostile waters, with the hopeful surfer repeatedly interrupted by hollering elders as he spoke in favour of the wave park.
“There are more opposers than I expected, but there are 5200 members of Melville Community Chat which is the modern way to communicate, and there is a lot of talk about moving on,” Mr Green said.
The meeting was called after a petition of 231 signatures was gathered by Clive Ross, who also heads a new action group that last December 22, lodged papers with the Supreme Court asking for a judicial review of the conditional lease for the wave park.
Mr Ross told the meeting the Swan Foreshore Protection Association’s claim was that the lease was invalid because it was signed by Wave Park Group subsidiary UrbnSurf Perth Pty Ltd, which hadn’t been named in the council’s business case as required by law.
“This is based on the city not ticking all the right boxes,” Mr Ross said, revealing that the council had responded that it had “substantially” satisfied its legislated requirements.
“It’s not appropriate to spend community funds on how to get away with not taking the right boxes,” Mr Ross said to thunderous applause.
A second successful motion on the night called on the council to reconsider its decision to move the Melville Bowling Club, with former federal politician George Gear passionately pulling apart a council report which found the club financially unsustainable.
Mr Gear said the club paid its bills without council help, and was growing in membership and playing more bowls. He said it made no financial sense building shared facilities on Tompkins Park when the club was financially secure.
“$9.4 million; are you mad, are you absolutely mad,” he said of the council’s proposed sports hub of Tompkins Park.
Several speakers made mention of the fact the council’s recently been struggling to find a home for two long-term local sporting teams, yet is giving up acres of turf for the wave park.
The successful motions will now have to go before the council for consideration, but Dr Silcox has the authority on whether to contest the association’s claim in court.
He says the council’s solicitors have been asked to look into the judicial review.
“Once the advice is received all aspects will be considered before determining the way forward,” Dr Silcox told the Herald.
Mr Aubrey told the ratepayers that there’s currently nothing for the council to spend money on regarding the wave park, which is being assessed by state government departments. He said there are contractual obligations arising from the relocation of the bowling club that would mean compensation if the project was put on ice.
by STEVE GRANT