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Whitfeld’s hidden agenda

with 4 comments


Whitfield public meeting flyer

Whitfield public meeting flyer

This flyer arrived in the mail a week ago and I was immediately cynical, based on my previous experience that public meetings are rarely held if the outcome has not already been determined. My cynicism was well founded.

Friday’s Chronicle reported that a $23,000 grant had been received for a feasability study for developing the football ground pavillion into a community centre that could be used for child care, a seminar and conference centre and for performing arts productions. That was certainly different to what the flyer said. So, I had to go along.

Auspiced by the Rural City of Wangaratta, the meeting began with an explanation that this feasability study had to be completed before the State Government would hand over $100,000 promised by Steve Bracks during the 2006 bushfires for the upgrading of the recreation ground facilities in appreciation of the Whitfield community’s contribution to the bushfire crisis.

This was immediately challenged and it was revealed that the rec hall committee had taken the decision, without community consultation, to not claim the $100,000 but, rather, to seek further funding (up to $500,000) to develop a community centre.

The mood of the 30 odd community members present was hostile. The Recreation Reserve Committee had clearly stepped outside their management brief and an unpleasant exchange continued for the next half hour before the organisers could bring the meeting back on track.

At that point, I had heard enough and left the building. I will phone a friend tonight to see how it all panned out. It has left me with the following unanswered questions

  • The feasability study will take more than a year to complete which can only be seen as a delaying tactic to receiving the already granted $100,000. What is really behind this?
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Why can’t we take the $100,000 now and then still go hunting for future grants?
  • What is the Rural City of Wangaratta’s involvement in all this. Have they already accepted the money, spent it elsewhere, and now trying to delay the reserve upgrades for a couple of years?

There is a hidden agenda and it has not yet been exposed.


Written by Greg Naylor

20 July 2008 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Greg Naylor

4 Responses

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  1. What is really behind this?

    It sounds like the council has already decided the $100,000 will go towards the community centre proposal. Feasibility studies are only ever conducted to justify a pre-determind outcome. The committee wouldn’t be the driver, they’d be acting on ‘advice’ from some wing-nut in the council.


    20 July 2008 at 9:03 pm

  2. That’s probably correct. The Rec reserve is owned by the RCoW and is managed by a local Committee of Management that is answerable to the Council.

    In a village of some 30 houses with the rest of us on farms/acreages, and with a school of less than 20 children, Whitfield simply does not have the population to warrant a community centre of the type proposed. Particularly when the township doesn’t warrant a sewage system or even a drainage system in the main street.

    The State Government specified the $100,000 grant be spent as follows: $50,000 for grey water irrigation of the sports oval with water sourced from the Whitfield Winery; $30,000 for a kitchen upgrade in the pavilion; and, $20,000 to seal the driveway into the reserve. That grant was made immediately after the bushfires and is expected to be spent within two years for those purposes alone.

    It would appear that the Council, through the Rec Reserve Committee, is playing games with that money and the Whitfield community.

    Greg Naylor

    20 July 2008 at 9:43 pm

  3. A nice building contract for someone perhaps?


    20 July 2008 at 11:57 pm

  4. The Chronicle today published an article titled “Whitfield community wish list” following last Sunday’s meeting. I will be writing a new post soon

    Greg Naylor

    23 July 2008 at 2:19 pm

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