Cottesloe, Indiana lease stoush costs ratepayers at least $656,641

LAWYERS’ fees and toilet-cleaning costs have cost ratepayers at least $656,641 during blocked talks about dirty public toilets under the Indiana restaurant on Cottesloe Beach during the past 12 years.

“There were significant expenses of $454,641 (Cottesloe Annual Report 2017 p46) associated with unsuccessful litigation by the Town of Cottesloe as part of the lease dispute against Indiana,” a briefing note to councillors said.

At tomorrow’s meeting,Cottesloe councillors will go behind closed doors to discuss on-going lease negotiations, a change to the council’s budget and “temporary facilities” at the restaurant.

The council and restaurant leasee Melbourne-based Red Rock Leisure are in dispute over which is responsible for toilet cleaning. plumbing and maintenance in the lease, which the company holds until 2041.

In 2016, Red Rock issued a Supreme Court writ against the council when claimed maintenance and cleaning requirements were allegedly beached.

The note said legal advice “repeated” they were Red Rock’s jobs, despite no indication in the lease when the work should be done.

The restaurant has been dogged by controversy since its construction over changing rooms in the mid-1990s, including initial claims of concrete cancer, a 50-year lease without rent increases, and the council rejecting a $1.2m upgrade in 2008, and a $4.7 improvement in 2016.

Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Yvonne Hart said the council could not sustain the legal spending and residents did not support it.

“We’re fed up with the lease argument and it’s time the whole matter was resolved,” Ms Hart said.

The note said since 2006 additional costs to the council comprised “supply of toilet rolls and sanitary services” from October 2006, when a toilet cleaner was not approved for $31,000.

The council paid for plumbing costing $40,000 in 2010 and $80,000 to unblock toilets in 2011-12, before another $6000 for pipes in 2012.

In 2015, the council spent $40,000 on cleaning, and $44,000 the year later when it was estimated a plumbing upgrade would cost about $400,000.

A spokeswoman for the council said it would not answer questions at this time about the lease, toilets and the undercroft kiosk because the lease was a confidential item at the meeting.

Perth-based Indiana director, chef Chris Taylor, has been contacted for comment.