City of Swan seeks to set record straight over stoush with Shalom House; founder hits back

Shalom House.
Shalom House.

THE City of Swan has hit back at “misinformation” being spread by Shalom House founder Peter Lyndon-James over a long-running dispute regarding the residential rehab facility.

Swan Mayor Mick Wainwright responded today to incorrect information, which was being communicated in the public realm.

The City and Mr Lyndon-James have been embroiled in a battle since 2015 after the residential facility in Henley Brook was told to shut down because it did not meet the City’s residential zoning requirements.

The matter is awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court following a hearing in January this year after unsuccessful mediation at the State Administrative Tribunal.

Cr Wainwright said the misinformation being spread had become a concern.

“Council and I believe the facts surrounding this case have been miscommunicated and we would like to clear things up once and for all,” he said.

“First of all, I’d like to reassure you that the issue is not and has never been the Shalom House program.

“Council and I continue to believe it plays an important role in the rehabilitation of drug and alcohol dependents.

“The issue is that it is our job to make sure all members of the community, not just a select few, continue to be protected by and benefit from the City’s local planning laws.”

Cr Wainwright said council had a responsibility to ensure all local laws were upheld.

“If the City were to change its planning laws in the manner suggested by the State Administrative Tribunal, to allow Shalom House to operate in the Swan Valley, there could be ongoing consequences for all City residents,” he said.

“In particular, the hundreds of families and businesses in the Swan Valley as it could open the region up to adverse development.”

A decision by the Supreme Court is expected to be handed down in the next three months.

Cr Wainwright said once the decision was handed down council would work with Shalom House to find an option that meets the needs of both parties.

Cr Wainwright said despite the matter being before the Supreme Court, Shalom House had continued to expand.

“In the meantime, the council would like to reassure you that we will continue to represent all of you and remain honest, accountable and transparent throughout the process,” he said.

“Many of our councillors have been out to visit the site and learn about the program, some have visited more than once and all others, including myself, have an understanding of the facility and its program.

“Contrary to recent opinions expressed publicly, the City and council have been in communication with Shalom House since receiving the first complaint in 2015.”

However, Mr Lyndon-James said the statements made by the City of Swan were “ incorrect, misleading and untruthful”.

“From the very beginning, meeting requests were placed to speak with the Mayor, the CEO and councillors about where we can move,” he said.

“Two years, multiple refusals to meet with me, 70 additional residents and 45 more staff later, the mayor is saying we could operate elsewhere within the City of Swan.

“This would have been very helpful when we had 30 residents and five staff; had they agreed to meet with me.

“Unless the mayor can come up with 10 other properties big enough to fit all of this and a way to fund this relocation, I am afraid his option of moving ‘elsewhere’ is too little, too late.

“I believe the City has handled our case dishonestly, unethically and behind closed doors. They have not done what they are elected to do – represent me, my staff, my residents and other community members who have reached out to them on our behalf.

“The fact is that the council has not acted with integrity and an inquiry into the manner in which they have dealt with this application needs to take place.”

For more information and background visit www.swan.wa.gov.au/shalominfo.

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