Yarra Council ‘overwhelmed’ by community support for East West legal action

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Melbourne Leader: Yarra Council ‘overwhelmed’ by community support for East West legal action. Nic Price. 1 August 2014

Yarra Mayor Jackie Fristacky, pictured with Moreland Mayor Lambros Tapinos, says the public is backing the legal action being taken by the councils against construction of the East West Link

Yarra Council has received strong support from residents for launching a legal attack on the $8 billion East West Link, says Mayor Jackie Fristacky.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy labelled Yarra and Moreland Councils’ Supreme Court challenge to planning approval for the tunnel a huge waste of ratepayers’ money.

A date has yet to be set for the case, where the State Government’s refusal to provide a business case will come under attack.

The councils will argue that the expert planning panel advising Mr Guy acted illegally because it did not consider the economic effects on Yarra and surrounds, or whether the project was value for money, because the panel was never given a business case for the project.

Cr Fristacky said the council had been “overwhelmed” by hundreds of supportive phone calls and social media messages since announcing the move.

She said the council had received three calls and emails opposing the action.

Cr Fristacky said the appeal was expected to cost $170,000 in total, with each council to pay half, and should take three to five days.

“It’s a pretty contained review on a position of law with no new evidence or witnesses,” Cr Fristacky said.

“It’s such a significant impact on our community that we thought we had no option but to challenge it.”

Cr Fristacky said if the council won the case the planning approval and any contracts based on it would be invalid.

Mr Guy said he was confident the government had followed its obligations and still intended to sign contracts to build the tunnel before November’s election.

He said legal costs were likely to blow out beyond what the council estimated.

Labor has pledged to honour any contracts signed before the election, but protest organiser Anthony Main said Labor should commit to ripping up contracts if it won power.

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