A $30m loan was prematurely drawn down by the General Manager of Manly Council, Henry Wong, just 7 days before the Council was merged, and only weeks after the tender was approved for the design and construction of a car park under Manly Oval.
This came to light at the Northern Beaches Council meeting on 22 November, when the Draft Financial Statements for the period ended 12th May, 2016 were released following questions raised at the meeting by Bruce Kitson.
In what appears to have been another totally improper action taken by the then General Manager, Manly Council was paying interest on a $30m loan, before the project even had development consent!
The 'authorisation' to draw down the loan was based on a vague resolution of Manly Council on 27th April, in closed session, when the Community Strategic Plan (CSP) was adopted. No public notice was given of this meeting. This again was highly irregular and believed to be illegal.
Not only was it usual for the CSP to be discussed in an open session of Council, but the matter was always on the Agenda for the June general meeting.
The April resolution was a further example of the disgraceful behaviour of the Mayor Jean Hay and Liberal Councillors of the former Manly Council who consistently used their majority vote to push this highly contentious project.
Following the merger of Manly Council into the Northern Beaches Council action was taken to pay off the surplus loan, following the cancellation of the project by the newly-appointed administrator, Dick Perssons.
Nonetheless, an unavoidable loss of $69,000 was incurred in interest payments and cancellation fees, money that could have been better spent on basic maintenance of neglected facilities around Manly.
We await with great interest the release of the independent reports commissioned by the Northern Beaches Council which resulted in the cancellation of the tenders. This is now expected to be made public early in 2017.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.