East West Link: Mayor Jan Chantry vetos court challenge bid

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Melbourne Times: East West Link: Mayor Jan Chantry vetos court challenge bid. Sue Hewitt. 28 July 2014

A row over the East West Link split Moonee Valley council last week, with mayor Jan Chantry using her casting vote to break the deadlock.

The eight councillors present at last week’s meeting were divided over whether to seek legal advice to join court action to fight the $8 billion road project.

Cr Chantry used her casting vote to veto the move, saying she did not want to be “dictated” to by the cities of Yarra and Moreland, which were legally challenging the decision to build the 18-kilometre road.

She said the other councils had already received compensation from the state government for the project’s impact on community facilities, but Moonee Valley had not and could not afford to “antagonise” the government.

A Yarra council spokeswoman told TWR her council had not received compensation, and Moreland mayor Lambros Tapinos said his council also had not been compensated.

Moonee Valley councillors were all concerned about the project’s impact on community facilities such as Debneys Park, the Flemington Community Centre and roads around the Ormond Road off-ramp, but divided on taking legal action.

Councillor Jim Cusack moved a motion to seek legal advice on the cost of joining the neighbouring municipalities’ court challenge, sparking fierce debate at the meeting. He said Moonee Valley would look like “village idiots” if it did not seek a legal opinion about possible costs and the likelihood of success.

Cr Cusack said together with Yarra and Moreland, Moonee Valley represented 300,000 Melbourne residents and could keep a “fire under the Premier’s [Denis Napthine’s] toes”.

But councillors Chantry, Andrea Surace, Narelle Sharpe and Paul Giuliano were concerned about the cost of legal action.

They voted against councillors Cusack, Shirley Cornish, Nicole Marshall and Cam Nation on the motion and the mayor used her casting vote to defeat it. Councillor John Sipek was absent.

Cr Surace moved an alternative motion that the council still oppose the toll road and ask the government not to sign the road contract until all the details were finalised, including the exit on to Flemington Road.

The vote was split the same way and the mayor again used her casting vote to support the motion, which did not seek legal advice on joining the court action.

Chief executive Neville Smith said “preliminary” advice from the other councils last week showed it could cost Moonee Valley up to $350,000 to join their legal battle.

Yarra Council joins Moreland to fight East West Link

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