Esperance councillor presents motion to delay demolition and hear from lawyer

BREAKING: A motion to delay demolition of the Esperance Tanker Jetty until a lawyer can provide advice on his investigation into the demolition contract will be debated by council on Tuesday, November 19.

Cr Shelley Payne has moved a motion for council to engage Michael Hotchkin of the law firm, Hotchkin Hanly to provide legal advice following his investigation regarding the validity of the council's decisions to demolish the jetty.

However, shire deputy president Basil Parker has moved a motion for council to continue to support the decision made on October 1, 2019 to provide the new, replacement jetty as approved by the Heritage Council of WA in accordance with existing approved contracts and agreements.

Cr Payne's motion states Mr Hotchkin's investigation included, but was not limited to, the validity of the advice given to council when it decided to demolish the jetty.

According to the motion, the investigation also examined whether it complied with the Heritage Council's request to consider reconstruction of the Jetty.

Cr Payne has also called to direct chief executive officer Matthew Scott to facilitate, cooperate and participate in the investigation as required by the lawyer.

This would include providing access to requested documents, including any confidential documents, two hard copies of the contract and all documents related to the contract awarded to Crossview Enterprises for demolition, the contract awarded to Maritime Constructions to construct a replacement and any related contracts.

If passed, the motion would have council instruct Mr Scott to take no further action to progress the demolition of the jetty until the legal advice by Hotchkin Hanly had been received and considered by council.

The use of the lawyer would be approved as an unbudgeted expenditure of up to $30,000, if Cr Payne's motion succeeds.

The tender to deconstruct the jetty was first awarded to Crossview Enterprises for $1.5 million in November, 2016.

Nearly three years later, council voted, 7-1, to award a $6.8 million contract to construct the new jetty to Maritime Constructions on October 1, 2019.

Just two councillors who voted to award the construction contract remain in council, those being Cr Steve McMullen and deputy president Basil Parker. However, newly elected councillors Jennifer Obourne and Ron Chambers campaigned strongly to go ahead with the shire's current proposal.

Council is set to vote on whether to accept, reject or delay the issue on Tuesday, November 26.

The full motion can be found in this month's Agenda on the shire's website.

More to come.