While the recent Council resolution to delay lodging a development application (DA) to proceed with the controversial Oval car park has been welcomed by the Independent Councillors Candy Bingham, Barabara Aird, Hugh Burns and Cathy Griffin, it is clear that the 5-4 deadlock will take some time to resolve.
A series of workshops have been scheduled to give the Councillors time to work through the issues. Clr Candy Bingham, while pleased by the delay, questions whether the correct process has been followed.
“In my opinion the process has been flawed from the start. Although the Manly 2015 Vision has been on Council’s agenda since 2008, the Good for Manly group were the only Council candidates who took a stand on the Oval car park in the lead-up to the Council elections in 2012.
“Nowhere in the Liberal campaign materials was the Oval car park or Manly 2015 mentioned, even though the project had been put on hold by the previous Council,” she said.
Without any resolution to proceed, the newly-elected Liberal dominated Council launched the 2015 Vision and in particular the construction of a car park under Manly Oval.
This month, following a mixed response from the Office of Local Government regarding the capital expenditure of the project, the Council administration recommended that the car park move to a DA, even before any design plans had been developed, or discussed by Councillors or the community.
During its term, the Council has remained divided over the car park proposal. The Mayor, Jean Hay, has responded to concerns about the lack of community consultation by stating that “this is the most consulted project Manly Council has ever done …”. However it is the Council’s response, or lack of it, to community feedback and questions that has caused major concern. As has the Council’s refusal to provide copies of relevant due diligence reports to Councillors.
“The lack of transparency is a furphy being promoted by the opponents of the Plan,” according to the Mayor at a recent Council meeting.
Thousands in the community would disagree. As would the nine Resident Precinct groups which still have not had their concerns and questions regarding the financial viability of the project addressed.
In the meantime the Councillor workshops will provide a truce for now, with both sides hoping that the other will ‘come to their senses’ and vote their way.
The likelihood of that happening is as remote as finding a parking spot in Manly during a busy summer weekend.
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.