It is very clear that the decision had already been made before the Councillors formally voted on Tuesday night on the successful tenderers for the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street site. Otherwise how can you explain the detailed information board being erected in Whistler Street on Friday morning?
Whether you agree with the proposals or not, you have a right to expect that due process will be followed.
From day one, this has not been the case with the Liberal-led Manly2015 Plan.
Then we had the tender process …
Tenders closed on 15th March.
On the 30th March a last minute (unscheduled) 20 minute presentation was given by the General Manager on the recommended tenders to Councillors saying the staff report had been finalised.
An extraordinary meeting was called for Tuesday 12th April. Councillors were given notice on Thursday 7th April that they could view the tenders (massive documents) before the Extraordinary meeting the following Tuesday. Councillors were required to sign not one, but two confidentiality agreements.
But this week was the absolute pits ….
On the night of the meeting, the general public were refused access to the Council Chambers to hear the start of the meeting. Although a closed session was proposed none the less the law states that it’s the Councillors who decide, not the General Manager, and that a vote needs to be taken to go into closed session at the start of the meeting. This was not done.
Rangers refused access to some 80 local residents who turned up to hear the debate. The police were called. The meeting went ahead with the blinds closed and the doors locked. Attempts by the non-Liberals for the correct procedure to be followed were refused.
That wasn’t the end of it.
Although the meeting was in ‘closed session’ and therefore I am not permitted to report on what was discussed in the meeting, I don’t think you have to be Einstein to work out how the vote went – based on statements made by the four non-Liberal Councillors (Candy Bingham, Barbara Aird, Cathy Griffin and Hugh Burns) prior to the meeting and the ongoing recorded stand by the five Liberal Councillors led by the Mayor Jean Hay.
Councillors were told there was no opportunity for them, or the public, to make comments or suggestions about the winning tenders but that any feedback could be made at the time of the Development Application. (This is exactly what was done with the Indoor Pool complex and we all know how well that has gone).
A rescission motion, signed by all four non-Liberal Councillors, was lodged after the meeting at 10.06pm by email. But it was refused on the basis that the tenderers had already been notified. (Not sure that a phone call to tenderers after 9pm is usual business practice?)
Then to add insult to injury ….
The very next day the winning tenders were announced on Manly Council’s website with substantial photographs, copy and a fly-though video which had not even being seen by the Councillors!
Two days later Council staff were erecting an elaborate information board in Whistler Street with all the details about the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street winning tenders. That’s two days later … you think they would at least have had the decency to pretend the final decision was made by the full council and allow some time to look as though everything hadn’t been pre-prepared and ready to go.
As I said, democracy is dead in Manly. The announcement of council amalgamations is expected to be in the next 10 weeks – what a mess the new Council will be left with.
But it is not over. The Save Manly Oval Alliance has committed to fight the decisions firstly at the Development Application stage, and then in the Land & Environment Court if necessary. They have my full support.
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.