THERE’S been a new twist in the drama over the Melville Bowling Club’s proposed 50-year lease, with the city saying it’s been modified too much to support.
“In essence, if the city accepted the club’s proposed lease terms, it would be akin to granting the club freehold and redevelopment rights to the land for 99 years,” a late item to next week’s council meeting notes.
At its July meeting, the council told CEO Marten Tieleman to “conclude negotiations, sign and execute a lease” for 50 years on the club’s riverfront home, but the CEO is now putting the ball (and the controversy) squarely back in mayor George Gear’s court.
The report says the MBC submitted one of the city’s standard lease agreements, but it had been altered so much the CEO ran it past the council’s lawyers. Although their advice is confidential, they backed the CEO’s interpretation that it would make it impossible for the council to control what went on at the site.
Mr Tieleman says that makes complying with the July decision impossible.
“In accordance with the resolution it is now for the council to decide the terms and conditions of the lease to the Melville Bowling Club,” his report to council said.
Former Liberal Opposition leader and Riverton MLA Mike Nahan called on local government minister David Templeman to launch a new inquiry into Melville during a fiery debate in Parliament on Wednesday.
“There is evidence that there needs to be an inquiry into whether the council has made an improper decision regarding a very valuable council asset … in violation of local by-laws and principles”, Mr Nahan said.
“We also know that the Melville Bowling Club was very active and campaigned for George Gear, the now mayor, who is a member of the club.
“The club not only stated repeatedly that it supported him, but also put advertisements all over the front of the club.”
Mr Nahan said all councillors who voted to approve the lease in July had an “apprehended bias”.
But Mr Templeman hosed down suggestions of an inquiry, saying that “just two months ago, the member for Riverton called on me to have an inquiry into the City of Fremantle, and he used the City of Melville as an exemplar council that Fremantle should follow”.
by STEVE GRANT