City of Melville to discuss Applecross Cricket Club use of Bert Jeffrey Park after concerns raised at special meeting


A special electors meeting was held last night to consider use of Bert Jeffrey Park.
A special electors meeting was held last night to consider use of Bert Jeffrey Park.

USE of Bert Jeffrey Park as a cricket venue and plans for new change rooms there could be scrapped following a special meeting of electors last night.

At the meeting the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association (MRRA) found support for a motion requesting the City of Melville cease all work and expenditure on new facilities at the Murdoch park.

The MRRA wants the City to halt developments until a Local Government inquiry into the council has finished and the local community has been consulted about plans for the venue.

It also wants the City to present a report to council looking at alternative venues for the Applecross Cricket Club.

The association’s motion was backed 55-46, with the item likely to be considered by Melville councillors next month.

Issues with Bert Jeffrey Park now date back 12 months.

Concerns were raised after a turf wicket was installed in early 2017 to allow the Applecross Cricket Club to host Saturday games at the venue.

The City is now looking to add change rooms to the site, with an exact location currently out for public comment.

The MRRA argues, as do many residents living near the park, the City should have engaged locals earlier in the piece.

Residents say they were not told the pitch was going in until work to prepare the oval had already begun and that a petition signed by 300 people protesting the wicket 12 months ago had fallen on deaf ears.

They say the park is too small for the sport, that the change rooms were not part of the plan 12 months ago, that alcohol is being consumed illegally during games and that cars are parking on verges.

MRRA spokesman Mark McLerie said he pushed forward with the supported motion to ensure ratepayers were heard, not to hurt the local cricket club.

“This decision reflects the community’s desire for issues like this to be put to council and for these decisions not to be put in the hands of the administration,” he said.

“Let’s hope the councillors will reflect on this issue, follow this motion through and do what should have been done well over a year ago.”

Presenting last night, Applecross Cricket Club committee member Angus Castley said the motion – if followed through by councillors – could put them in a “perilous financial position”.

He said the club, which spent about $50,000 preparing the ground, deserved to “be able to move forward with what is in essence a minor development of an underutilised ground”.

Speaking to the Times after the meeting, he was hopeful councillors would vote favourably.

“We’re unhappy the motion was carried because it puts us in some danger with the turf wicket but we’re happy it was close and we got a fair hearing,” he said.

“We just need some change rooms so players can get changed, put their gear in and keep our sandwiches cold for afternoon tea.”

Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey argued City staff had followed due process up to this point and was surprised its plans had caused such debate.

He said the club, which only uses the ground for 10 hours a week, was not an intensive use.

“I thought it would be a great thing for (locals) who have enjoyed almost personal use of the oval for over 20-odd years,” he said.

He said councillors could consider the matter in March.

“It will go to council and they will review it on merit, as we always do when we have electors meetings,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean to say it would automatically be carried.”

The motion is the second of its type backed by electors in as many weeks.

The Swan Foreshore Protection Association recently asked the council to scrap any possible spend preparing land for the proposed $25 million wave park and $9.4m Tompkins Park redevelopment until a local government inquiry has been completed and Supreme Court action resolved.

The council is yet to consider this item.

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