Council accused of ‘secrecy’


Council accused of ‘secrecy’


THE integrity of the decision to include Wonthaggi ArtSpace Gallery in the alliance operating out of the Wonthaggi Centennial Centre was called into question last week.

While Bass Coast Shire Council and Wonthaggi Rotary Club agreed having Artspace, the Wonthaggi Business and Tourism Association and the information centre volunteers working in the facility would benefit the community, president of the Bass Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association Kevin Griffin claimed the process was flawed.

Since the closure of the Centennial Centre came about, Cr Neil Rankine has had a conflict of interest that excluded him from voting in any decisions relating to the centre.

At community question time last Wednesday, Cr Rankine revealed he had been subsidising the rent for ArtSpace to operate out of a prominent building in McBride Avenue.

“If I had voted, it might have seemed like I wanted to get rid of my tenants or hold them there,” he said.

Mr Griffin felt a commercial property should not be operating from the Centennial Centre.

“We’ve had a councillor charging a fraction of the rent, and from what I can see it appears Wonthaggi ArtSpace is like any other shop,” he said.

“We now have a situation where council have secretly decided what should be done with the information centre and a commercial operation has picked it up for peppercorn rent.

“Now it is in what has been described as a showcase property. The community is questioning the ethics of council and it is fed up. It’s not a good look for this council.”

Mayor Cr Jordan Crugnale reminded the gallery ArtSpace is a not for profit organisation, and an expression of interest process went out before the decision was made.

“We had five proposals and we decided which one was the most appropriate with the involvement of Rotary,” she said.

With ArtSpace already receiving a reduced rate at its current site in McBride Avenue, Mr Griffin also questioned the alliance’s request to receive $60,000 of funding per year.

Cr Crugnale said the funding would go towards ensuring the building meets appropriate standards, which is the responsibility of any landlord.

Council is currently in negotiations with the alliance to finalise the memorandum of understanding, which will include options about how to secure the alliance to the Centennial Centre on a permanent basis.

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Posted by on Sep 20 2016. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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