Autumn of discontent

FOLLOWING a community backlash, Bayswater council bureaucrats have claimed their recommendation to sell the Maylands Autumn Centre was a misunderstanding.

When city staff prepared a report for councillors about the city’s three seniors centres in Bayswater, Maylands and Morley, they stated their “preferred option” for Maylands’ was the “disposal of the building and land”.

That was changed to “consider retention or disposal of the land” after Cr Catherine Ehrhardt posted on Facebook that officers were proposing closure, provoking irate phone calls and emails to council ahead of the December 6 committee meeting.

“After we received letters from the community and I made a post about it letting the community know, we’re suddenly told that ‘oops, the table should read ‘consider the sale or retention of the land’,” rather than just disposal,” she says.

Bayswater mayor Dan Bull says it was an innocent typo and there was a “building audit underway that relates to all assets”.

Non-profit

But in September, the four clubs using the Autumn Centre received a council letter stating they could book there until January 31, “and such time that a decision is made as to the future of this venue.”

Clubs using the senior’s centres in Morley and Bayswater did not receive that letter.

World Shotokan Karate-do Federation was one of the groups told they couldn’t use the Autumn centre after January, but this week they got a call extending their stay to June.

“We’ve been there 10 years, so we don’t want them to [sell it], but it’s a decision for the council,” karate instructor Howard Mutton says.

“If they do sell or demolish, we have to consider something else.

“The RISE is one thing, but we are non-profit and we are worried about the expenses.”

Cr Elli Petersen-Pik noted that neither of the other seniors centres in the report, in Bayswater and Morley, had any mention of “disposal” as their preferred option.

He says the city had been purposely winding down use of the Maylands centre with a mind to getting rid of it.

“The recommendation to dispose, or consider disposal, is not mentioned for the Bayswater senior centre, or the Morley senior centre,” he says.

“Why’s that? Because [the Maylands centre] is empty.

“Because the city already cleared out the building, because the original option was to dispose of it, not to ‘consider’ disposal.” The fate of the Maylands centre will be decided when all council assets are reviewed in a city-wide audit starting next year.

by DAVID BELL  and MOLLY SCHMIDT

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