YOU’D have to wonder whether the Bass Coast Shire is actually trying to help or hinder the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Club.
First the shire’s Municipal Building Surveyor slapped an order on the club’s patrol tower on October 12, giving them 30 days to carry out works to make the structure safe.
Asked for help, the shire instead issued a statement saying “removal is the only viable option, as the structural integrity of the building would be compromised if it were to remain long term.”
Keen to do what works were necessary to keep the tower, at least until after the summer patrol season, the surf club fired in an appeal to the Victorian Building Authority, asking it to overturn the order, thereby giving them more time to find a workable solution.
Three councillors; Cr Julian Brown, Cr Brett Tessari and Cr Les Larke backed the club’s appeal with a letter to the responsible Minister, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, supported by local MP Brian Paynter.
The surf club didn’t pay the required fee to have the appeal fast-tracked, instead specifically requested that the appeal hearing be held in April, effectively putting a stay of execution on the tower.
But the shire’s administration, as opposed to the council, has stepped in and paid the cost of a fast-tracked appeal, requesting that the hearing be held on or before December 1.
The shire administration, the council and the surf club appear to be running at cross purposes.
Speaking after the election of shire mayor last Wednesday, shire CEO Paul Buckley claimed the shire’s hands were tied once the Municipal Building Surveyor declared the building unsafe and DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) agreed to put a ban on the building.
“We’re bound by the building code,” Mr Buckley said.
“Once they’ve declared the building unsafe, there isn’t a great deal we can do,” he said.
But he agreed the council could move an ‘Urgent Motion’ at this Wednesday’s council meeting calling on the council to advocate to DELWP for the club to be allowed to do the necessary works to extend the patrol tower’s life at least past the holiday seanson.
“We had a meeting between Life Saving Victoria, the shire and ourselves last week to try and work out some options and I think we made some progress,” said Fiona McMahon-Hughes.
“They more or less said they’d put up hurdles to whatever we tried to do to get in it but this time at least, they did talk about options for relocating it.
“It’s something we’ve wanted considered all along but they have consistently ruled it out.”
Mrs McMahon-Hughes said there were a series of meetings planned for early this week that could make a real difference.
“We hope to have a solution by the end of the day on Tuesday (today).”
That would be ahead of the first official council meeting, on Wednesday, November 23 at 5pm in the council chambers at Wonthaggi.
Cr Julian Brown said the three Bunurong councillors had thrown their support behind the club last week, sending a letter to the Minister on Friday, November 11 before the cut-off time for the order on November 12.
“If there’s something further that can be done, to get the support of the whole council now, we could look at that too,” he said.
Meanwhile the shire is going ahead with construction of an alternative access track, from the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Club’s carpark, west along the foreshore towards Wreck Creek, to a lower point, not as prone to erosion from the sea as the existing beach access point adjacent to the surf club.