JOONDALUP council, in front of a packed gallery, last night revoked its September decision on the future of Craigie’s Warrandyte Park ahead of a community forum and a further report to its December meeting.
The unanimous vote came after Whitford City Football Club members and residents criticised the original plan to move Joondalup United to the park, and after at least one councillor apologised for last month’s decision and Mayor Troy Pickard stood by it.
Mr Pickard also lambasted some members of the community for their actions, including spreading fear and naming his seven-year-old son on Facebook amid protests against upgrading Warrandyte for National Premier Leagues WA team Joondalup United and moving Whitford City to parks in Beldon and Mullaloo.
His criticism came after councillors had their say, a 2000-signature petition against making Warrandyte Park United’s home was tabled and a 10-minute adjournment during public statement time when the mayor warned people in and outside the chamber not to applaud and cheer as the council was a “serious institution” and “not a performance”.
Whitford club vice president Wilco Vlemmix, who was among eight public speakers calling for consultation, including Hillarys MLA Rob Johnson, implored the council to “restore the trust lost in this institution last month” by revoking its September decision.
Club treasurer Andrew Ward said, “we see ourselves as part of the Craigie community, are very happy there” and “have no beef with Joondalup United”.
Mr Johnson said he had been inundated with phone calls and emails from people distraught at the thought the park was to be “taken over by a semi-professional football club”.
Cr Russell Poliwka, who moved the part-rescission motion, said the council decision to support upgrades at Warrandyte last month was a mistake.
He said he understood the council had the right to move sporting clubs but the “numerous” people who contacted him were concerned they were not consulted.
“I don’t think we adopted best practice,” he said.
His motion called for a report after consultation, including with people and businesses around Warrandyte Park and the Whitford City and Joondalup United clubs.
Mr Pickard received backing for an amendment to include a public forum, chaired by the mayor, to seek input on the use of Warrandyte.
Cr Mike Norman said the council’s September decision had “caused a lot of division and angst in the community”.
“With the clarity of hindsight we got it wrong,” Cr Tom McLean said.
“We pride ourselves on consultation.”
Cr John Logan said he was determined to help get Joondalup United the ground it deserved, while Cr Philippa Taylor said she understood why Craigie residents wanted to “retain the tranquillity of their local park”.
She said the council had rushed the decision last month “and for this do apologise to the residents of Craigie”.
Mayor wants community forum to be run in “respectful manner”
Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said a community forum seeking input on the use of Craigie’s Warrandyte Park should be run in a “respectful manner” in “the context of facts”.
He told last night’s council meeting that public debate had been marked by “a significant amount of misinformation” since councillors unanimously voted last month to help accommodate Joondalup United at the park in line with Football West standards for a National Premier Leagues WA team.
Mr Pickard was speaking ahead of the council decision to rescind the Joondalup United plan and consult stakeholders, including Whitford City Football Club, which was to be asked to move from Warrandyte, its home since the 1970s.
He had been “deeply disturbed” by the “scurrilous” conduct of some people fighting change at Warrandyte, including a Whitford City club member who had included the mayor’s son on a Facebook page.
“How dare you bring my son into this debate,” he said.
“My seven-year-old son’s done nothing to deserve to be named in social media.”
Mr Pickard labelled a disgrace a 2000-signature petition that he said asked, “do you want your park used by hooligans drinking alcohol seven days a week”.
He said facts to be considered included that no stadium or isolation fencing was being proposed for Warrandyte, and that it was a district park and not ranked as local.
He said he had extensively researched the issue, Whitford City was under using the Craigie venue and he still believed moving Joondalup United to Warrandyte was the right decision.
If Warrandyte was chosen as Joondalup United’s home after the consultation, a reference group could be set up to control, for example, the number of functions held at the club.