INITIALLY the source of community anger at the shire’s failure to communicate, the proposed closure of the Inverloch Transfer Station has become a touchstone for everything that’s wrong with the Bass Coast Shire Council.
A public meeting last Friday, July 8, that was designed to smooth troubled waters, after the botched announcement was anything but that.
Bass Coast Shire CEO Paul Buckley chaired the meeting at the Inverloch Community Hub, fending off hostile questions from members of the public, as Mayor Cr Jordan Crugnale looked on.
“The purpose of this meeting today is to explain why we’ve made the decision we’ve made,” Mr Buckley said.
He repeated several times, during Friday’s meeting that council’s decision, to potentially close down the transfer station, was based more around environmental concerns than any cost-saving imperatives.
However, those in attendance at the meeting decried loudly that council had failed to make an adequate business case for the proposed closure.
One Inverloch resident angrily shouted from the crowd of around 50 people that the meeting was the first time that residents had been directly asked whether they wanted the transfer station closed or not.
Kevin Griffin, an Inverloch resident, who in the past has expressed concern over Council’s decision making processes, was vocal in his condemnation of their latest stuff-up.
“In your report, which was subsequently deferred until August, you stated that you would be transparent, evidenced-based, and inclusive in your decision making. You have failed to do this,” Mr Griffin said.
“What this report and this presentation here tonight has failed to do thus far, is produce any evidence whatsoever that this problem, as you like to look at it, is a problem that cannot be overcome.”
Mr Griffin even went as far as to suggest that council cease all decision making and proposals until after the local elections have been held, a statement that was meet with loud cheers and applause from the attending community members.
“How can we, the public, have any confidence in this council’s ability to make decisions?” Mr Griffin said.
“Bass Coast Council is a wreck,” he claimed.
“How about council stop making any decisions until after the local elections, and bring the power back to the people?”
There was one lone attendee on Friday who supported council.
“I don’t think that a 15-minute drive to the Wonthaggi tip is unreasonable. I don’t understand why there’s such hostility here tonight,” the property owner said.
Mr Buckley explained that the council was considering the closure of the transfer station for a number of reasons, stemming from a report in the Waste Management Strategy that indicated a significant upgrade to the facilities would be needed in order to bring the site up to best practice standards.
The upgrade could cost up to $500,000.
A decision on the future of the Inverloch Transfer Station has been deferred until the August 17 meeting of council, little more than a month before the ‘Caretaker Period’ commences on Wednesday, September 21.
A second community meeting on the issue will be held this Friday, July 15 at the Inverloch Community Hub between 4pm and 6pm.
Tipping point – Line in the sand over Inverloch closure