Herald Sun: Moreland City Council spends big to fight East West Link but cuts funding for Christmas decorations. Christopher Gillett, Marlene Millott. 27 July 2014
Moreland councillor Oscar Yildiz says fighting the East West Link is a “fruitless case”.
A Melbourne council has spent a small fortune fighting East West Link, while cutting funding for local roads and Christmas decorations.
Moreland City Council and Yarra City Council have spent more than $500,000 on an anti-East West Link campaign, as infrastructure upgrades languish in their own backyards.
A Sunday Herald Sun Waste Watchers investigation found Yarra and Moreland could spend more than $1.5 million to try to derail the Government’s $6-8 billion project.
As Moreland voted to cut $105,000 from its Christmas decorations fund and $545,000 from road upgrades, councillor and former mayor Oscar Yildiz launched an extraordinary attack on his colleagues who, along with Yarra, also voted to sue the State Government at a cost of up to $350,000.
“This is ratepayers’ money and the lawyers are going to make some very big dollars from this fruitless case,” Cr Yildiz.
“I can put $350,000 into a kinder, into a struggling sports club, into home care for the elderly.”
Moreland mayor Lambros Tapinos defended the court action and said the council was elected “to make difficult decisions”.
He said the council took funds from road funding to install more lighting in the area.
“We have removed money from the general roads budget to fix a specific road in Glenroy. The other half went into street lights,” he said.
He said the council would still spend $800,000 on Christmas decorations.
“We’ve received a lot of comments, emails and letters and the vast majority are in favour of our action.”
Yarra mayor Jackie Fristacky said there was strong support from her community, citing 20,000 people had signed a petition and 10,000 joined a Facebook group.
“I walk down the street and people tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘Good on you’,” she said. “The motion was passed unanimously across all political persuasions.”
This year both councils increased their rates by more than the CPI – Yarra 5.4 per cent and Moreland 4.5 per cent.
Both started legal action just three months before homes in the project’s path are due to be acquired.
The case would seek to suspend the tender process until after the state election on November 29.
Lawyers will argue the State Government did not follow due process.
Treasurer Michael O’Brien said both councils were wasting money on “party political campaigns”.
Melbourne City Council and Moonee Valley also oppose the East West Link.