New city councillor key to push to overturn Hutt St Centre review

Adelaide City councillor Robert Simms has pulled his request for an urgent meeting to stop a legal review of the Hutt Street Centre, instead opting to delay the vote until next month to include newly-elected councillor Greg Mackie. 

May 20, 2020, updated May 20, 2020
Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

InDaily reported on Friday that Simms, with the support of fellow councillors Phil Martin and Helen Donovan, wrote to the council’s CEO asking for a special meeting be held this Thursday to consider revoking a controversial decision to commission a legal review of the Hutt Street Centre.

The resolution, which passed at last Tuesday night’s council meeting following a push from Deputy Lord Mayor Alexander Hyde and with the support of the Team Adelaide majority faction of which he is credited as leading, asks for the legal review to determine the impact of the Hutt Street Centre’s land use on neighbouring businesses and residents.

The decision has been widely criticised by some members of the community, including Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas, who pledged to explore “all parliamentary options for intervention” if the council did not rescind what he described as an “abhorrent and deplorable” decision.

Simms told InDaily he has since decided to call off the special meeting and will instead lodge his rescission motion for the next general council meeting on June 9.

He said doing so was the “most sensible course of action” to prevent the council from “locking in a bad decision”.

The June meeting will be the first for newly-elected central ward councillor Greg Mackie, who said he would support Simms’ rescission motion.

“Given the importance of this issue to the community, it makes sense for all members of the council to have their say,” Simms said.

“An ordinary meeting of the chamber will maximise the chances of shutting down this senseless review.

“June 9 will be a moral test for the council.”

Mackie told InDaily a legal review of the Hutt Street Centre’s compliance with land use regulations “risks opening a Pandora’s box in relation to any and all contested activity mixes across the city”.

He said the Daughters of Charity, which founded the homeless service provider 65 years ago, “have a right to expect that they can continue to operate, and, where possible, make improvements to the amenity of their site”.

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The council chamber could reach a deadlock at the June 9 meeting if all the members who voted in favour of the legal review remain unswayed and the councillors who were not present for last Tuesday’s vote – including Greg Mackie, Helen Donovan and Anne Moran – vote in support of Simms’s rescission motion.

Moran told InDaily last week she was undecided about how she would vote, while Donovan was one of the signatories calling for the council to hold a meeting to revoke the decision.

In the event a deadlock is reached, Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor would be required to give a casting vote.

Verschoor told InDaily last week that the Hutt Street Centre “provides an invaluable service to some of our most vulnerable community members”.

The decision to commission a legal review of the Hutt Street Centre’s land use followed last month’s unanimous Council’s Assessment Panel (CAP) decision to approve a $2.2 million upgrade of centre.

Some neighbouring traders and residents argued that the homeless service provider attracted more clients now than in 1995 when the land use regulations were set and, as such, the renovations would facilitate an unlawful expansion.

They also argued the Hutt Street Centre’s clients regularly engaged in anti-social and criminal behaviour, a claim both the centre and SA Police deny.

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