Manly Council has knocked back a chance to resolve financial worries over its proposed oval car park.
Today the council rejected a motion by Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham to commission a realistic "revenue generating" forecast.
Cr Bingham proposed that financial services company KPMG prepare a "sensitivity analysis" on the financial return from the car park based on 75 per cent concessional (free) usage.
Cr Bingham said previous KPMG modelling had used the figure of 50 per cent use of free car parking, although the council's own surveys show free use actually accounts for 75 per cent of car park visits, as drivers take advantage of Manly's "two hour free parking" rule.
Councillors opposing the motion said the council had already asked for financial forecasts on the project. But when General Manager Henry Wong was specifically asked if the 75 per cent figure would be used, he could only reply that he "would expect this would happen". As none of the councillors have seen the brief provided to the analysts preparing reports, we can only speculate on what they have actually been asked to review.
According to Many Council's Manly2015 Bulletin dated 12th December, 2013 the following studies are underway:
1. Village Centre Development Mix Study Mid November 2013
2. Retail Centre Study Mid November 2013
3. Parking Demand Study Mid November 2013
4. Independent Due Diligence Advice late December 2013
5. Lodgement of CapEx to DLG January 2014
(Division of Local Government)
6. Lodgement of DA to JRPP March 2014
(Joint Regional Planning Panel)
7. Tender for Oval Car park May/June 2014
The fast pace and timing of this project is alarming with all major reports due over the Christmas holiday season. Mayor Jean Hay tried to criticize Cr Bingham during debate on the motion saying, "This is the 13th occasion you have brought concerns regarding this project to Council". But actually the council should be listening to the concerns raised not only by Cr Bingham and Good for Manly, but all nine of the resident precinct groups, the Chamber of Commerce and four of Manly's most prominent property owners.
As the Liberal councillors keep reminding us - "let's see what the independent studies show". One would wonder however, if it was truly necessary to commission these very expensive reports when it would appear that the project is flawed. Council has spend $177,000 in the last financial year alone on consultants for Manly2015, and that was before all these reports were commissioned.
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.