The Office of Local Government has now confirmed that the former Manly Council meeting on April12, at which the public were locked out and tenders were awarded for the construction of a car park under Manly Oval and the 99 year lease of the Whistler Street Car Park and Library sites - was illegal.
Further, Dick Perssons, the Administrator of the new Northern Beaches Council, has commissioned Ernst & Young and Value Network to facilitate an independent review of the projects, following continued concerns raised by Good for Manly, the Save Manly Oval Alliance and hundreds of concerned citizens.
This independent review was announced just days after submissions closed for the Development Application of the Oval Car Park, which in turn was lodged just two days before Manly Council was officially amalgamated.
Concerns Over Lack of Process
Over the past four years Good For Manly has raised serious concerns about the way in which Manly Council undertook the process of developing the Manly2015 Masterplan which originally proposed a 760 space car park under Manly Oval and the 99 year lease to a developer of the Whistler Street car park site.
On the 12 April, behind closed doors and with no pubic notification, the Liberal majority on the council voted for a 500 space car park (not 760) and the 99 year lease of both the Whistler Street car park AND library sites. The redevelopment proposal was new to the Councillors and was nothing like the submissions made during the Expressions of Interest process, in fact some would argue it was a 'non-confirming tender'. It had had no public exhibition for feedback, was quite different from anything previously exhibited and the proposed development exceeds the current height limit for the site.
Non Compliant Running of Meetings
Add to this two years of complaints to the Office of Local Government (OLG) by Clr Candy Bingham that the General Manager, Henry Wong, was systematically refusing to put legitimate motions on the business paper - and you get an idea of just how dodgy the process has been.
In the business paper for the Northern Beaches Council meeting on 7th July, (see copy below) a number of letters from the OLG addressed to Mr Wong, dating back to June & July 2014 , are attached. These clearly state that the Council's Code of Meeting Practice was not compliant with statutory requirements and needed to be updated. It never was, and the GM continued his practice of rejecting legitimate motions.
In addition the OLG's letter dated 10/6/16 addressed to the interim General Manager of the Northern Beaches Council raises serious issues in relation to the meeting of 12 April which was held in the absence of the public to consider tenders concerning Manly2015 Masterplan.
It is pleasing that the new Administration is taking the matter seriously by commissioning an independent assessment. The final report is expected early August.
In the meantime the DA process for the Oval Car Park will continue with independent consultants Fox Partners assessing the submissions on behalf of Council. Their report will be peer reviewed.
The high level of open and transparent government now operating under the new Council is a joy!
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.