Westbury public meeting on recreation centre finally arrives

QUESTION TIME: Meander Valley mayor Craig Perkins said there will be lots of time for the public to ask questions. Picture: Paul Scambler
QUESTION TIME: Meander Valley mayor Craig Perkins said there will be lots of time for the public to ask questions. Picture: Paul Scambler

A public meeting to discuss the proposed $5 million Westbury recreation centre will take place on Thursday night.

The meeting, chaired by independent adjudicator Elizabeth Daly, will give the community a say on the proposal three months after retired ex-Meander Valley councillor Pat Frost started a petition rallying against the development. 

Meander Valley mayor Craig Perkins said he expected a big turnout to the forum. 

“The hope is we will be able to explain the decision of the council to build new facilities at the Westbury recreational ground,” he said.

“There’s mixed views in the community – I’ve heard there are strong views against it – and I guess this will test whether that’s true or not.”

A motion to spend $5 million on a recreation centre at Westbury was passed by the council in September, after the council voted down a motion for $1.2 million worth of upgrades. 

The new centre would include a sports pavilion, changerooms and a function centre.

However, Ms Frost’s petition questioned the cost of the project, and asked for the proposal to be brought to a public meeting.

It was tabled at November’s council meeting by Meander Valley councillor Tanya King. 

Cr King said the community should have its say on the project.

“I am concerned about the overall spend of the project, and also the ongoing cost to ratepayers, for an asset that I can’t be certain is wanted by the community,” she said.

Councillor Bob Richardson said Westbury desperately needed more recreational facilities. 

“I think once [people] are informed of the facts, the emotions will be removed and people will realise [the recreation centre] is something that should have happened years and years ago,” he said.

Cr Perkins said there would be an opportunity for the crowd to put forward motions regarding the centre for the council to vote on at its next meeting. 

“We won’t be bound by any decision or view of the meeting, but it is an important part of community engagement, which we need to respect,” he said. 

The meeting is at 7pm at the Westbury Town Hall.