Petition calls for bowling lease recision

A COMMUNITY association linked to former Melville mayor Rusell Aubrey is fighting back against a 50- year lease offered to the Melville Bowling Club by the local council.

The Greater Melville Community Association has launched a petition urging the council to reverse its extraordinary grant or reduce the duration to 10 years. 

In a prime riverfront location with a potential 49-year extension, the lease comes at a rate of $100 per year. 

The GMCA was launched at the height of the debate about the wave park, with Mr Aubrey enthusiastically encouraging people to join to counter the rival Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association, which had him in their sights. It was launched by factional ally and former councillor Alex Bejada.

Mr Aubrey has also been active on social media, calling the lease “wrong on so many levels”.

The former mayor said elected members hadn’t propery declared an interest when granting the lease.

“I have called upon the  minister for local government to intervene now and save Melville residents the potential $7.2 million bill for a panel inquiry.”

Acting president Scott Green didn’t return the Herald’s calls, but members of the group’s Facebook page were questioning whether other clubs would now be offered such generous leases. 

Melville mayor George Gear said the previous council prioritised commercial towards another inquiry.

activity over community interests, and the long lease was a way of restoring a balance. 

“The council is giving the lease to ourselves, the Melville community,” Mr Gear said.

“I want to focus on community activities for a club that has been around for 65 years. 

Bowling club president Tim Smith said he wouldn’t be happy with a 10 or 20-year lease.

“This club provides a lot of facilities for a lot of community groups,” he said.

“Given the age of the building we need to redevelop the site; the building has run its life.” 

Mr Smith said the MBC was seeking a peppercorn lease so it wouln’t be a burden on the community. 

Mr Gear also dismissed complaints from the Greater Melville group that he should have abstained from the vote given his membership of the club and its prominent role in his election, saying he gained no benefit from being a social member.

by MORGAN DE SMIDT 

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