At a robust Council meeting last night a rescission motion to stop the Oval car park and retain the Whistler Street car park was lost 5/4 with the Liberal majority now pursuing "proposals from interested parties for the construction of the oval car park ..... and long term lease of the existing Whistler car park site for a mixed use development." This followed various representations from precinct groups, with a clear message that locals did not want this project to proceed.
At a meeting called by the Premier Mike Baird on April 9 with chairs from the precincts (6 precincts were present), there was agreement amongst the chairs that the clear view of the majority of the residents is that, as a consequence of the current confusion, the long history of changes in strategy by the Council and the potential financial risks associated with building a new car park under the oval, no decision to proceed with any car park development should be considered until after the next local Government elections.
Addressing the Council meeting last night Terry Le Roux, Chair of North Harbour Precinct, said there was no immediate need or imperative to take action on the Whistler St site or build new car parking capacity - it was entirely discretionary. “There is currently understandable confusion among the residents on this issue. Making a decision to delay and hold over any further work would demonstrate to the community that the Councillors are listening to the residents”, he said
Clr Steve Pickering, who moved the motion to call for proposals, said “We know there is concern and polarisation of views in the community. So we are trying to move forward. We will have an open and transparent brief. What better way to resolve the divergent community views, than to test the market?”
But the Independent Councillors remained firm stating that the redevelopment of the Whistler Street site was not acceptable to the majority of the community, and the viability of the oval car park was dubious at best.
Clr Candy Bingham summed it up by saying: “Just shelve it and be done with it. What a waste of time and money”.
However the recession motion was lost and the calling of proposals is to proceed.
What Has Been Spent on Manly 2015?
At the same meeting Cr Candy Bingham asked for a report on costs incurred since the Manly2015 masterplan to revitalise Manly CBD was launched in 2008. The report would include design and planning fees, marketing expenses, traffic studies, capital works undertaken to date, and so on.
The motion was knocked back on the grounds that it was a) too difficult to find out, and b) it had all been budgeted for anyway.
The knockback, predictably enough, came from each of the Liberal councillors, as well as one Independent who said he was trying to compromise.
The joke, or tragedy, was that this motion came straight after one where Liberal councillors trumpeted their intention to proceed with Manly2015 with complete "openness and transparency".
So how much has Manly Council spent on Manly 2015 and why won't they tell us?
Candy Bingham, 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.