Council risks losing up to $1.5m


Council risks losing up to $1.5m

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council is still split over its responsibility to maintain a Walkerville water retarding basin, owned by Ansevata Nominees Pty Ltd, the family company of Cr Jeremy Rich.

At last Wednesday’s council meeting, councillors voted to allow officers to prepare a report detailing how to restore the capacity of the Walkerville retarding basin.

The motion put before the council last Wednesday was only addressing the capacity of the basin and resulted in yet another heated discussion between councillors.

Cr Andrew McEwen said the issue could cost council up to $1.5 million.

In 1990 the Shire of Woorayl entered into a water taking agreement with Ansevata to facilitate a retarding basin for the stormwater management of Prom Views Estate.

Under the agreement, council was obliged to maintain the capacity of the basin at no less than 13.5 mega litres. Currently the basin is under capacity due to silt build up.

Cr McEwen spoke against the motion.

He quickly moved to call the situation “farcical” and said the council had spent nearly as much on “ill informed” legal manoeuvres as it would have cost to fix the problem in the first place.

Cr McEwen said the overall direct and indirect costs were now more than $300,000.

“What we are proposing to do will inevitably lead to legal action, because it is not dealing with the fundamental nature of the agreement which was around quantity and quality of water,” he said.

“There are real problems with both the capacity of the dam and the toxicity of the water. There is pollution in that dam.”

Cr McEwen said a lot had been said “that was potentially libellous” about Ansevata and Cr Jeremy Rich, whose family owns the company.

“Let me place on record that Ansevata Nominees sought on numerous occasions in good faith to resolve the issue, regarding water, quality and amount, through negotiations, not through conflict,” he said.

“It was council that decided to take an adversary approach.

“We are looking at rolling the dice and loosing between $1 and $1.5 million. We should be looking at negotiating as the first avenue.”

Cr Edwards said the original agreement was poorly worded, however there was something else she was more concerned about.

“What I was extremely uncomfortable with, and I can substantiate this if needed, was the direction councillors gave to our mayor outside of this table to negotiate directly with Ansevata,” she said.

Cr Don Hill immediately called a point of order against Cr Edwards because she was “about to defame councillors yet again” with an unfounded allegation.

“I can substantiate that statement,” Cr Edwards said.

“No you can’t, because it didn’t happen,” Cr Hill said, to murmurs of “it did” from around the table.

“It did happen,” Cr Edwards said.

Mayor Cr Ray Argento ruled against Cr Hill.

“My point is I am glad this is on the table…let’s bring the report and act on the information that we can,” Cr Edwards said.

Cr Lorraine Brunt said it was implicit council was responsible to maintain the volume of the retarding basin.

“If we don’t make a way forward to restore the capacity we may be in breach of that agreement,” she said.

“It is important not to be in breach of the agreement, it is important to restore the capacity. It may not be all Ansevata is wanting.

“I don’t believe there is any evidence of long term pollution in that dam.”

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Posted by on Oct 3 2017. Filed under Featured, 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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