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How can council justify having the former Oscar W’s building empty for a third tourist season?

by
October 02, 2016

The building which housed Oscar W's.

Paul Jarman

LET’S take the community through what I believe to be an accurate and succinct journey that I think the community has a right to question but I’m not convinced the information that has been made available to the community in the Riverine Herald or even by the council itself, has been clear enough.

What I believe has happened is that the council and the previous tenant came to an agreement and the tenant walked away from an existing lease, leaving the building open.

That was the first issue.

The second issue was an expression of interest was run externally and upon completion of that EOI there was found to be an anomaly forcing the council to run the EOI for a second time.

The second EOI was then run from which the EOI was awarded to Echuca Murray Proprietary Limited.

There was then comments made about the process which resulted in a full investigation of the process by the Inspectorate of Local Government and the following investigation outcome was made:

The Inspectorate is committed to rigorously investigating allegations of poor governance, corrupt behaviour and breaches of the act and conducted all investigations according to best practice under the Local Government Act.

The Inspectorate conducted a thorough investigation of the first and second expressions of interests which included the consideration of documentary evidence and relevant interviews.

The investigation prima facie concluded that there is no evidence that councillors breached the Act.

Specifically the investigation prima facie concluded that Paul Jarman — being me — did not misuse his position (76D of the Act), having considered that you did not make improper use of information required as a result of the position you hold; direct or improperly influence council staff; or did not fail to disclose a conflict of interest.

The investigation prima facie concluded there is no evidence that council staff breached the Act.

The investigation prima facie concluded there is no evidence that councillors or council staff committed offences for which the Inspectorate should consider a referral to another agency.

Accordingly the inspectorate will take no further action.

Those allegations that resulted in the investigation of that process — Annie Vickers, Eric Grumont, Robert Danieli and the previous tenants — added a further nine months delay and tens of thousands of dollars wasted of ratepayers money on what I believe was a fair EOI process of which Echuca Murray Proprietary Limited made the highest and best offer of which the ratepayers of Echuca are absolutely entitled to receive a commercial return on the properties that they own in the Port of Echuca.

And I cannot wait to open the business, which I opened many years ago and owned half, was the executive chef and manager, some 15 years ago, of Oscar W’s.

I look forward to the opportunity.

Thomas Weyrich

ABSOLUTELY disgraceful.

Once again I refer to puzzling decisions.

How this has been allowed to happen is inconceivable.

I have spoken to Leigh Wilson about it and I said ‘I’m sure it’s all been done legitimately, legally and above board but it’s not right. Morally it is so wrong it’s incredible’.

Annie Vickers

THEY can’t.

I believe that it’s an absolute disgrace that a building that people flew in from all over Australia ... is sitting there, not only not being used, it’s not maintained.

It looks dirty from the outside.

Kris Munro

PERSONALLY it is very disappointing that we have, not just Oscar W’s, but so many empty spaces along the Port of Echuca. The focal point of Echuca is the Port.

The fact we have so many closed shops, Oscars being the main one and the Bridge, it is very disappointing is hasn’t gone ahead and it hasn’t got off the ground.

I’m not sure whether it’s a shire issue or if it’s being held up on other sides of developments.

But it’s disappointing to see these iconic buildings remain closed.

Eric Grumont

AN EMBARRASSMENT.

Why is it that we are coming up to the third tourism season and why is it not being developed?

When a building like the Bridge Hotel has had reportedly had $618,000 spent on it and work started within two months of the previous tenant being vacated.

Oscar W’s has been sitting there for three years and I don’t know if there’s been a lease signed. When is it going to start?

Peter Williams

THE complexities of that decision and what the public knows and is able to know make it very difficult for us to make an informed decision.

Should it have been empty for that long? No, it shouldn’t.

Do we know all of the story that has made that the case? No we don’t.

And so there is a lot of speculation going on as to what is going on and most of that speculation I am sure is misinformed.

Was Oscar W’s a great restaurant? Yes, it was.

Should council have put that building out to public tender? They had no choice.

Government rules said they had to do that. That was never in question.

The error that was made interestingly by public and professional agents from Melbourne was quite frankly a disaster and that’s probably the only bit where we would all properly and rightly be angered.

I think it’s interesting we have candidates who are standing who are from the Port area and should they get elected they can have no say at all or influence in anything that happens in that space. Council’s rules say that any person who stands to benefit from a decision of council has to exempt themselves.

And so those candidates, were they to be successful, can have no say in that area. They would have less say than they would being a member of the public.

That’s challenging.

Rohan Burgess

IT CAN’T

It’s appalling.

Mis-management in my opinion.

Daniel Mackrell

IF COUNCIL can’t get it right and it’s their property who should? The council is there for the community so they need to get it right. Did they get it right the first time? No. Did they get it right the second time? They say they have.

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