Mildura Weekly : Friday March 15 Vol 13 No 19
NEWS 3 FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2019 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU CONCERNED Gol Gol residents are asking serious questions about a Wentworth Shire Coun- cil (WSC) plan to establish a ‘container cafe’ and information centre in James King Park. Gol Gol Cafe Bakery propri- etor Jason Zambelli said that he, and a number of other residents, believed the project had so far lacked transparency. “The process surrounding this development has been ef- fectively hidden from the com- munity,” he said. “There are a lot of unanswered questions in the whole process.” The cafe proposal was first mentioned in a Council meeting held on October 18, 2017, the minutes of which state: “Coun- cil has been approached to con- sider the idea of establishing a café at James King Park. Before the idea can be explored further, Council needs to decide if the idea has merit, and whether it fits with the long-term amenity of the park.” The minutes further state: “It will be difficult for Council to prove or justify that this con- cept is so unique that there is only one proponent capable of providing the service, therefore to ensure transparency and ac- countability this process should be conducted via an open ten- der/expression of interest.” Council then resolved to en- dorse the concept for a café at James King Park, and to select a preferred applicant after under- taking “a competitive expression of interest process.” In response to that, Mr Zam- belli and his fellow concerned ratepayers claim the exact oppo- site had occurred. “It has been kept very quiet. No-one has been told anything,” he said. “The James King Park User Group, who oversaw the park during its redevelopment, have also been kept in the dark. “The whole community is talking about it. I’ve put a post up on Facebook which asks some questions – I haven’t ac- cused anyone of anything – but why is it a secret process – what advantage is that for the com- munity?” Mr Zambelli said that other stakeholders have also been ex- cluded from the process. “The tennis club hasn’t been made aware of it; there hasn’t been a DA available for discus- sion, and our group had to ap- point a planner to go to Council in an attempt to get the project put on hold and to have Coun- cil enter into some community consultation,” he said. “There hasn’t been any dis- closure of rental, there’s no disclosure of who’s paying for what, and now, at the last min- ute, the User Group has been made aware of a potential ‘Tour- ist Information Centre’ that would form part of the kiosk. “That would seem to have been included to justify ratepay- ers contribution to the private enterprise. “I don’t have a problem with the development. I have a con- cern about the process and not understanding if the outgoings are fair. Is the Council paying the applicant to run the infor- mation centre – what deals have been done that the community isn’t aware of?” Since speaking with Mr Zam- belli, the Mildura Weekly has also been provided with information circulated to the James King Park User Group which sums up community concern. That information, in a docu- ment circulating in the commu- nity, clearly outlines a strong be- lief that the process undertaken by Council has been ‘tainted’, and that the key issue involves “a poorly managed conflict of interest that has ultimately erod- ed transparency and account- ability.” • Continued Page 6 Gol Gol resident concern James King Park container cafe tender process has been conducted under ‘a veil of secrecy’ claim ratepayers.... By John Dooley email@example.com @MilduraWeekly • QUESTIONS ASKED: Members of the Gol Gol community, including Gol Gol Cafe Bakery proprietor, Jason Zambelli, are concerned that the tender process for a kiosk to be established in James King Park has been less than transparent, and are asking questions of Wentworth Shire Council. 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Friday March 8 Vol 13 No 18
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