Colourful protest to shoot down council plan

Picture: Gary Sissons

ORANGE became the colour of protest on Monday 10 April as up to 500 people marched from the Frankston Yacht Club to the council chambers in support of Frankston Basketball Club.

Marked “Save Our Stadium” and “United We March”, the marchers’ t-shirts symbolised the basketball community’s stance against Frankston Council as it negotiates over the stalled $12 million stadium redevelopment works and a controversial rent deal.

Basketball Victoria says the council’s decision to “raise [the club’s] rent by 250 per cent and attempt to leverage a six per cent tax on future earnings remains a sticking point … as the council aims to force further expenses onto ratepayers”.

Frankston District Basketball Association has contributed $1 million towards the redevelopment’s $12 million budget. It says it is “in bad faith that the council would overlook this capital contribution in favour of driving up the costs of local basketball by wanting to take over the facility and run it on its own”.

The Times understands the council had wanted to charge the association about $60,000 in rent plus six per cent on any revenue above $1 million, taking the total to about $130,000 a year.

This had earlier prompted basketball association general manager Nathan Jolly to accuse the council of making a “cash grab” after the association had pitched in the $1 million.

The impasse led to the council halting works at the stadium.

Basketball Victoria CEO Nick Honey told marchers the “increased financial burden that council has tried to shift onto the FDBA is unacceptable”.

“Basketball Victoria will always support our member associations in their times of need,” Honey said.

“As a state body, it is our role to help protect the association from such actions and, with the Frankston basketball community showing up on its doorstep this morning, this peaceful march has sent the strongest possible message to Frankston City Council.

“We hope council finds the common-sense necessary to seek a middle-ground in negotiations that doesn’t increase the costs of participation or place an unnecessary financial burden on Frankston’s basketball community.”

Frankston MP Paul Edbrooke told the crowd he wanted a “speedy resolution to the impasse”.

Cr Glenn Aitken on behalf of council accepted a basketball association petition signed by 6000 members, players and supporters.

FDBA president Gary Emery told Radio 3AW that the council had “trebled” the stadium rent which would force up costs to be passed on to already pressed parents and fans.

“People who are struggling now would be forced out,” he said.

“They [council] justify this by saying they need a proper return on their investment, [so] we are being penalised for being financially responsible.

“We all know what sport means in the Australian culture except this local government.

“Sport helps our young people who don’t go wayward because they have something to be involved in and they are being offered something to do.”

Strengthening the FDBA’s stance is its nine-year lease on the stadium.

First published in the Frankston Times – 17 April 2017

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