MELVILLE mayoral candidate Jane Edinger is pushing for the Melville Bowling Club to step back from its unprecedented 50-year lease and accept a standard 21-year sporting lease with the council.
Having been part of the change of guard on council that benefited from supporters angry about a proposed wave park threatening MCB’s clubhouse, it might seem an unusual stance, but Cr Edinger said the long lease had come with unexpected consequences.
“At the time that that lease came up, the club had been enduring appalling behaviour from the city, who wouldn’t give them a lease, who was threatening them with eviction, or who was making an unbelievably bad decision to put a wave park there – which thankfully didn’t happen,” Cr Edinger said.
“So a 50-year ground lease, where the club was responsible for all maintenance, seemed to be the best way forward.
“But what they found is they’re just spending money like water, because it’s an old facility, and it needs lots of maintenance.”
Cr Edinger said MCB’s not at risk of going under, but under a standard sporting lease the City would take responsibility for maintenance, giving the club some breathing room, as well as taking over stalled plans to redevelop the clubhouse.
The club wants to put in netball courts, but the current plan has them encroaching onto state government land, which would also preclude a lease longer than 21 years.
Cr Edinger’s supportive of the redevelopment of the clubhouse, saying that a fresh building and new sports like Netball could help to boost membership and give the club a sustainable footing.
Governance is one of her less-exciting platforms, but she says that as a former information management specialist, she’s got concerns about how it’s being managed at the City.
“We don’t have a forward-looking calendar telling us what policies are coming up, so we’re blind essentially.”
Cr Edinger says each document the council receives or produces should be numbered, but rarely is that noted on agendas or other corporate information, which doesn’t give her confidence they’ve actually been registered properly.
She also claims building compliance failures are making the City a “laughing stock”, singling out people continuing to build on a neighbour’s boundary without submitting the appropriate form.
Her digging into a boundary wall issue has seen her criticised by other councillors for stepping into the administration’s territory, but Cr Edinger said she was simply doing it to inform herself about the issue because getting information from staff wasn’t always timely.
She’s hopeful of a new era under incoming CEO Gail Bowman, saying they’ve got a good working relationship.
Improving Melville’s tree canopy is another target if she wins the top job, including advocating for the WA government to step up and deal with a contaminated tip site in Alfred Cove that she fears is releasing debris into the river.
She’d also like to explore getting more deep-soil provisions into the city’s planning scheme to improve tree retention during sub-divisions.
“Some local councils have also got grants to help people convert verges into native gardens, but I don’t think Melville has that,” she said, adding it’s something she’d like to champion.
by STEVE GRANT