Councillors want more heads-up after park lands fence fumble

Adelaide City Council elected members have asked to be pre-warned about planning proposals involving the state government in the wake of the Adelaide Comets Football Club park lands pitch fence issue – but one councillor says they already are.

Mar 13, 2024, updated Mar 13, 2024
Central Ward councillor Carmel Noon called for more timely notification of city projects with state govenment involvement. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Central Ward councillor Carmel Noon called for more timely notification of city projects with state govenment involvement. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Adelaide City councillors will now receive quarterly e-news updates to advise them of upcoming proposals involving the state government, to prevent any back-and-forth over issues such as the recent Comets’ facility upgrade debacle.

A council committee had recommended the upgrade including a permanent fence at Ellis Park be approved, but at a council meeting on February 14, the upgrades were rejected.

Adelaide City councillors knocked back a bid for a 1 metre high fence around the Adelaide Comets soccer pitch in Ellis Park but changed their mind after a backlash.

The club protested, saying it had been talking to council administration for more than a year about the upgrade, while Premier Peter Malinauskas also weighed in about the council knocking back the project which had been funded with a $1.75m grant from the Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing.

The plan was then reconsidered by the council and approved on February 27 with a gallery full of Comets club members showing up in support.

The Comets club and community members showed their support in the Council Chamber gallery in February, after two-three years of negotiating with the administration about their club upgrades. This picture: Helen Karakulak

At last night’s council meeting, councillor Carmel Noon said that councillors needed to be told earlier about planning negotiations, particularly involving state government funding.

“Elected members should be advised ASAP, in a timely matter and kept in the loop in a suitable mode so that we don’t have the issues we had with the Adelaide Comets Football Club where some members around this table used this as their own political football, pardon the pun,” she said.

“This matter was played out in the media and even the premier called this council crazy,  however, all we were doing was ensuring best practice due diligence and processes were being applied.”   

The Comets’ proposal first went to Kadaltilla/Adelaide Park Lands Authority for advice, and was then detailed in a report to the City Community Services and Culture committee before going to the council to be voted on. 

Noon said the first she heard of the upgrade plan was in the committee report councillors were given on February 1, ahead of the committee meeting on February 6. 

Noon said the upgrade – which included a contentious permanent 1.1 metre high fence – was one of many issues in the almost 500-page report that week. 

Councillor Mary Couros voted against Noon’s call for more notice, saying due process had been followed. 

“That is your job: to read the papers. Be informed. You do not understand something? Ask administration, that’s what they are there for,” Couros said. 

“I urge every single one of you elected members to read your papers and before the meeting, please ensure you ask the questions of the administration before we go through any embarrassing episodes as we did with the Comets because all that information was there.”

The council voted in favour of receiving more information in advance on state government-funded projects, with only councillors Couros and Simon Hou voting against it. 

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.