City of Bayswater councillor compares council to Russia after Morley community groups’ usage agreement is not renewed

City of Bayswater councillor compares council to Russia after Morley community groups’ usage agreement is not renewed

A COUNCILLOR has compared Bayswater Council to the Russian state after a Morley community group’s usage agreement was not renewed, leaving the group’s future uncertain.

A divided council voted against an officer recommendation of a one-year usage agreement for the Bayswater City Community Safety Watch and Garden Education Inc (BCCSWGE) at the old Morley kindergarten on Brand Place.

It instead requested officers seek expressions of interest from other not-for-profit organisations for the use of the building and grounds.

A community garden has been established at the site including 60 garden beds, flowers, vegetable patches and a paving arrangement.

Deputy Mayor Stephanie Coates, who put forward the alternate motion, said the vision and purpose of the group was unknown and she did not know where the produce went.

“I think this is the fairest way forward,” she said.

She said the group could reapply for the lease as well.

Cr Michelle Sutherland said the group already had had “more than enough time” enough to get garden running.

“I’m not against a community garden but against the current management,” she said.

Cr Catherine Ehrhardt said she had really wanted the garden to work but could not see how council could support the usage agreement.

She said that out of 15 listed community groups the group had partnerships with, seven partnerships were “complete mistruths.”

Cr Sally Palmer said the scrutiny applied to the group was much more intense than other community groups.

She said lack of signage and not being open every day had been criticised by council, when groups such as Bayswater Community Men’s Shed did not tick these boxes.

“I think it’s shameful that we sit around a table and hear these complaints… are we some sort of Russian state?” she said.

“What is wrong with all of you?”

Cr Chris Cornish questioned why council would shut down a community group that was active and producing.

“I’m amazed any councillor would support this,” he said.

“We’re really discussing to rip it all up.”

Cr Cornish said something was “off” about what was being proposed.

“I’m actually having flashbacks to school and a school bully being flanked by their supporters,” he said.

After the meeting, group chairwoman Pat Lim said she was “disgusted” by the discussion.

“I’m disgusted that they call themselves a garden city and then close down a garden,” she said.

“I think it’s a personal vendetta.”

She said the group would look to move to another area.

Ms Lim said she had met with the City and would seek a code of conduct review.

The group has held a usage agreement at Brand Place since June 2015, previously operating at the site as Bayswater Neighbourhood Watch.

Morley Lions Club had committed support to take on the community garden and use the premises for its clubrooms.

Chairwoman Pat Lim has been contacted for comment.

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