Melville Bowling Club: special electors meeting marred by accusations of ‘branch stacking’ in favour of wave park

Melville Bowling Club: special electors meeting marred by accusations of ‘branch stacking’ in favour of wave park

ACCUSATIONS of “branch stacking” overshadowed a special meeting of electors held on Wednesday night to discuss the proposed relocation of the Melville Bowling Club.

The meeting was not an opportunity to discuss a wave park under consideration for the land currently occupied by the Melville Bowling Club.

Nonetheless, a large contingent of wave park supporters packed into the gallery and proved decisive in supporting a motion endorsing Melville council’s October decision to proceed with the relocation.

The meeting was called after the City of Melville received a 201-signature petition protesting the proposed amalgamation and co-location of the Melville and Mt Pleasant Bowling Clubs at a new Tompkins Park facility.

Melville council had already voted to support the move, which is supported by both club’s executives.

Many of the Melville Bowling Club’s social members – who were not included in a postal ballot to assess support for the relocation – remain opposed to the merger.

They were joined at the meeting by nearby residents concerned about the potential for increased traffic and loss of open space at a new Tompkins Park multi-sports facility.

On the other side of the debate was a large contingent of wave park supporters, many wearing URBNSURF T-shirts, who view amalgamation of the Melville and Mt Pleasant Bowling Clubs as the first step towards securing the proposed Alfred Cove surf facility.

Acting as spokesperson for the anti-relocation campaign, former Federal MP George Gear decided against presenting his reasons for retaining the Melville Bowling Club at its current location at the start of the meeting.

Instead, proceedings began with City of Melville director of community development Christine Young reiterating why the City supported the merger.

Her reasons included dwindling participation in pennant bowls resulting in significant ratepayer subsidies to maintain the current facilities and an Australia-wide trend towards the co-location of multiple sports in purpose-built hubs.

A resident then moved a motion requesting all electors in attendance to support Melville council’s original decision to proceed with the relocation and merger.

Mr Gear began speaking against the motion but a request to extend his allotted five minutes was rejected by public vote, prompting outraged allegations of “branch stacking”.

The motion was subsequently carried 63-43.

The City subsequently confirmed 110 people signed the attendance register with their full names and Melville addresses, making them eligible to vote on the motion.