Shalom House founder Peter Lyndon-James has waved an olive branch to City of Swan Mayor and offered to meet on neutral grounds to discuss a way forward, and out of the current impasse, with the promise he will keep the discussions confidential, and off Facebook.
The offer was made twice to Mayor Wainwright by Mr Lyndon James on Friday, June 16 and again on Tuesday June 20, following a lack of agreement over where the two should meet to discuss Shalom.
He wanted to discuss the future of the program in the Swan Valley which is now the subject of legal action.
The city has taken Shalom House to the Supreme Court in an appeal against a planning decision by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), which said the city could use its discretionary powers and allow Shalom to keep operating.
The city launched the appeal because it believed SAT had made an error of law.
That ruling is yet to be handed down and Mr Lyndon-James said he believed for the sake of moving forward it was important to meet with the mayor and start a dialogue.
“Going backwards and forwards over email and third party platforms is not going to lead us in positive direction.”
City of Swan chief executive officer Mike Foley said the mayor would continue to communicate directly with Mr Lyndon James regarding this matter.
But he would not confirm to Echo News if the mayor would accept the invitation to meet privately at a neutral location now that Mr Lyndon-James had offered to, with the promise he would not post about what was discussed afterwards.
The offer to meet has come on the back of a letter sent to lawyers acting for Shalom House, by the city’s lawyers, over a series of posts Mr Lyndon-James put on Facebook that were critical of the city.
Although the posts were critical of the city in more general ways the city said all it had done was to take a particular view as to the use classification as a matter of planning law.
“People desiring to undertake all manner of uses are generally accepting of the proposition that they must apply for development approval first before they commence,” the letter said.
“At any rate, that is the law.”
But Shalom now has a number of sites, with another one soon to open, because Mr Lyndon-James said he simply could not turn people away.
“When the Supreme Court hearing is handed down in the next few months I will be close to, if not over, 126 men in the program, that’s 100 men more than when I started.”
He said it looked likely the matter would be referred back to the SAT.
“Meaning I’m back at square one again but instead of having 26 men I’m at 126 men.
“I understand that people mean well when they say to remain quiet and let the process unfold but with all respect that’s easy to say, we have a drug epidemic on our hands.
“I have two phones that don’t stop ringing from people who are needing help, I have people who are committing suicide, I have families who are desperate and wanting help.
“I am doing everything with little, or no funds, I have staff who work for next to nothing who have bills to pay and families to look after.
“I am growing at a capacity that is exponential but we are putting policies and procedures over and above human life.”
Mr Foley said the city was not threatening further legal action against Shalom House.
He said the city sent the letter to Shalom House, through their lawyers, Steenhof Brothers, requested extra information about the organisation’s operations due to their continued expansion without the appropriate approvals.
“The city has officially requested information regarding the organisations activities, the number of properties it operates from, and the number of staff and residents working or residing at those properties.”
Mr Lyndon-James said the answers to all of these questions were on Facebook – posted to keep his dealings with the city open, transparent and accountable.
He said all applications relating to the leases on properties that required planning approval had also all been lodged with the city.
Mr Lyndon-James said the latest one would be declined, like the Forrest St application had been, and get sent to the SAT.
“It will go into the backlog of all the other applications we have at the SAT waiting on the decision from the Supreme Court.”
Mr Foley said the letter also requested Mr Peter Lyndon-James refrain from making further incorrect public statements about the city, its staff and council, as this was inappropriate.
In response, Steenhof Brothers Barristers and Solicitors advised the city the matters addressed in the letter fell outside of their current brief.
Last week the city released a video to correct what it said was misinformation making its way into the public realm that had become a concern.
“Council and I believe the facts surrounding this case have been miscommunicated and we would like to clear things up once and for all.”
To watch the video go to https://tinyurl.com/yc82ystf