Big clash over Memorial Oval
Monday, 11th December, 2017
By Michael Murphy
A deep rift between City Council and the Memorial Oval Community Committee has been revealed in “highly emotive” meeting minutes published on council’s website at the weekend.
Council has ordered the committee to evict a business from one of the pavilions and seek approval from a council officer before taking bookings for events.
The released documents cover committee meetings dating back to September and detail some bizarre claims and counter-claims, including one about dead mice and a bucket of urine.
“There has been an ongoing concern with respect to the governance and management of this facility and officers have raised concerns for some time,” said Council’s Manager Infrastructure Services Andrew Bruggy in his latest report to councillors to accompany the documents.
The meeting minutes were originally rejected by council because they were not in the correct format, but the committee’s secretary John Ralph refused to review them, Mr Bruggy said in his report.
It seems the drama began in August when trucks were parked on the grass during the Broken Hill Vintage Car Club Show and Shine event.
This prompted a flurry of phone calls - accusations of mismanagement - and threats to shut the event down.
“I started receiving a number of phone calls from (Mr Bruggy) telling me to get the trucks off the lawn or he would go over and close the event down,” committee secretary John Ralph wrote in the committee’s September meeting minutes.
He rang the caretaker who organised for the trucks to be moved.
“Mr Bruggy informed the committee he found ... damage to the lawn which in his opinion could cost some $28,000 to repair ... this was loudly scoffed at by members,” Mr Ralph wrote.
Another issue of contention revolved around pavilions and tenants, particularly a computer business using the facilities.
Acting council general manager Razija Nu’man wrote a letter to the Memorial Oval Committee advising them to evict the business.
“Can you please provide evidence of the leasing arrangements that your committee has with the computing company,” Ms Nu’man wrote.
“Council has no record of this arrangement and as such it is not valid.
“Further, reports of food debris, dead mice and a bucket of urine were witnessed in this room.
“Please arrange for the immediate cessation of this arrangement with that business.”
Mr Ralph told a committee meeting that he questioned the business owner about the “urine” and he was told it was “motherboard cleaner”.
Mr Ralph wrote a letter in response to the acting GM, but he did not run it by the committee before sending it.
“This man has been using the facility for some six years,” he wrote, adding that the pavilions are owned and controlled by the Silver City Pastoral and Agricultural Association.
“You’re saying the man is guilty, well you may need to prove this as this man has seen what you have said and has told me he may be seeking legal advice.”
Issues of governance also arose.
The acting GM wrote in her letter to the committee that all future bookings at the oval would require the approval of a council officer attending committee meetings.
Mr Ralph wrote back and said this would not happen.
“I would like to ask if this little section that was been added was made up by you and Mr Bruggy after you left the committee meeting or was it spoken about at council,” he wrote.
“Well, however it happened, it will not happen, but it was a good try.
“No person on the (committee) has a controlling vote except the chairman in cases of a drawn vote.”
The next major event at the oval is the Rockfest on Saturday night.
The documents relating to the dispute are contained in City Council’s business papers for Wednesday night’s full council meeting.