I have conflicting feelings about the latest twist in the Willow Court story.
I have always said Willow Court should not have been sold by the government in the first place. It should have been been declared a National Park like Port Arthur and appropriately developed for visitors.
That said, I'm not in favour of the council handing back Willow Court at this time. In the months since my election to council we have taken the necessary steps to have Willow Court open to visitors by the end of May. We are reviewing and updating 10 years' worth of planning. We have established the Friends of Willow Court to introduce community participation.
If anything, the government's record of caring for the site is just as bad as the council's. The first local attempts to turn Willow Court into a museum date back to the 1960s but nothing came of it and the barracks in particular continued to deteriorate while under various government ownership.
I have led the criticism of the council's handling of the site in the past, but we are finally making progress and the majority of councillors have endorsed this new thrust. I fear that returning the site to the state will only further delay the preservation and redevelopment of Willow Court and surrounds.
What I find particularly galling is that Mayor Martyn Evans has allowed one councillor's position on Willow Court to override lawful council decisions. It seems all of our plans have been thrown to the wind following a short meeting with the premier, which I was unable to attend. I am most disappointed at this turn of events and appalled that I had to learn about it at a public meeting without being briefed by the mayor beforehand.
Ten years ago this council took ownership of Willow Court without asking if that was what the community wanted. Now after wasting about $2 million with no discernable result, it is proposed to give the site away without asking if that is what the community wants. I really expected better from this mayor.
This situation also brings into question how the council can in good faith interview potential purchasers of the oval precinct tomorrow, when on Sunday we may no longer own the site.
Councillor Damian Bester
(this statement was issued to the Derwent Valley Gazette earlier today)
I see it as a desperate attempt by Labour to buy votes in an election they have no chance of winning.ReplyDelete
Very disappointing behaviour from the Mayor. What happened to open policy & disclosure? Back to the old days of council I fear.
Exactly well said Damian, pretty much summed up my thoughts. I'm feeling pretty anxious at this time for the future of Willow Court. But what could we do??ReplyDelete
Very dissapointing! I too had higher hopes for what we could expect from our new mayor! Cant help but wonder how deep and how damaging are the secrets kept by past and current DV council? Is it really that bad that Mr Evans is more worried about fall out than doing as he promised which was keeping council honest and transparent? That is why he got voted in! Keep the pressure on Damian.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your own comments. These are mine.ReplyDelete
1. It seems business as usual at the DVC as in the Gazette article Mayor Evans has no desire to release the facts of how much money is now left. As he was the one who gave a song and dance treatment about the remaining $350,000 to stir his election campaign and wanted open and transparent council, he is now offering the ratepayers double standards by keeping the records secret.
2 What happened to the promise at the first meeting last year of a second meeting within a couple of months?
3. What has happened to the promised public consultation process by the DVC before it sold any asset?
4. If we were to hand the property back, do the ratepayers get reimbursed for the money the ratepayers have had spent on the project by Mayor Morris, Mayor Cracknell, Mayor Nicolson, Mayor Evans, General Manager, Mitch Clark and the accountant and all the consultants? This is a reasonable question as for all of our money we entered without our consent into an entreprenorial venture with the DVI and our money was used without being asked.I understand some $485,000 for the purchase price.
5. Where are the promised outcomes from the sale in May 2001 of the old RDH site?
6. Why has there been no monitoring of those outcomes by the State Government and why when the two partners went their separate ways , why were they allowed to go on an asset strip, selling off the site piece meal and making millions for each?
7. Why has the DVC been allowed to use the money on themselves?
8 Why is there a sale of the Oval if the promise is to hand it back? Or is that not part of the deal? But before that, why use any more money towards a bottomless pit that has been proven it has failed as there are no viable proven concepts, no business plans to proof up the concepts, no reasonable effort has been made to take care of the assets as the damage was extensively done during the ownership of DVI on Willow Court, oh and last they have spent all the money if I suspect why Mayor Evans is so reluctant to advise the community how much is left of the $2.34 million.
At the moment there are far too many questions. We the ratepayers are now dealing with a new council that is working again in secret. I suspect blanket cover confidentiality have been signed and the councilors who are meant to be working as safe guards to ensure the governance of our local council is being executed correctly is they have all fallen back in line.
I expect we are being asked to look forward and not into the past by those who want political convenience. AS the hard question have hard answers which people dislike to hand out, like where are the results for all their time and our money?
However if we allow the same people who have had control in the past of any entreprenorial activity in our community, then we have no future as the past 12 years has shown we have no results for all their time and our money they have spent.
RATEPAYER NEW NORFOLK
You cannot feel sorry for Mayor Evans who has totally compromised himself by putting up the proposal to the Premier who would jump at any chance to get a few votes of course! Well not from me, not after all the thousands which have been spent by the ratepayers on the old site so far and the promises made by Evans and others to get themselves elected. I reckon everyone knows that only Jim Elliott wants to give the place back and he seems to have sucked Evans and some others right in. I reckon the Libs will be the winners here by the comment made in the gazette that they won't be taking it back - good thinking!ReplyDelete
Much to the annoyance of some of my friends, I am quite happy to publish criticism of my actions as a councillor. Sadly such criticism is usually worded using language that cannot be published. To keep faith with some of those correspondents, I will paraphrase several recent comments sent to me via this blog.ReplyDelete
At 8.42pm on March 18, a correspondent calling themselves "Mr M" opined in a brief missive that we are all a bunch of Richard Craniums.
At 9.48am on March 20, "Anonymous" took exception to another correspondent for calling himself "Royal-Derwent" when posting here. "Anonymous" says "Royal-Derwent" is a fornicating humourist and concludes "and what can i say about you damian the mayor was right what he said to me about you." Unlike "Anonymous", "Royal-Derwent" has identified himself to me and is making his own positive contributions to the future of Willow Court. And while I have no idea what the mayor may have said about me to "Anonymous", perhaps he was saying what I good customer I am of his shop :-)
And finally, another "Anonymous" posted at 1.16pm on March 20 to say it was most unrealistic to expect to have the Barracks open to the public in May, as s/he believed the place to be a dung heap facilitated by the council. S/he says if we open this outhouse to the public they will suffer a needle-stick injury or tread in human body waste. "Get rid of the hole place royal derwent, willow court the lot, some rate payers don't even have concrete on the footpath outside their house." The writer concludes that s/he wishes to have intercourse with the council and the former mayor." I can reassure readers that there is no dung of any kind in the barracks (ok, maybe some possum poo) and unless the said possums have been shooting up, there are no fixes lying around either. This particular "Anonymous" is right about one thing though - some people do not have concrete footpaths and it is not good enough. My neighbours and I have gravel footpaths out front, and some ratepayers have no footpaths at all. If "Anonymous" would like to get back in touch by email and provide me with the locations s/he is concerned about, I will make representations on their behalf. The address is email@example.com
Goodnight all :-)