LITTLE Possums supporters made a stand to stay at their Mundaring Sharing-based premises by filling the Mundaring Shire’s public gallery on Tuesday night, leading to an alternative motion in their favour.
The group have been leaving their mark around the town centre with signs and rallies against a decision by centre operators Mundaring Sharing to cease the child care service this coming April.
A new Little Possums Daycare organisation contacted the Shire seeking help to find a suitable location.
Shire staff investigated two options, one, to move Little Possums to an unused site in Stoneville or two, terminate the current lease with Mundaring Sharing and create two separate leases for each group.
Staff recommended the relocation to Stoneville Playgroup, despite noting the facility needed upgrading, could not cater for the current number of enrolments and would leave a gap in services.
A failed amended motion by deputy mayor Lynn Fisher supported the recommendation but asked Mundaring Sharing to extend its closure date to December 2019.
It failed 10-1.
Cr James Martin then put forward an alternative motion in support of option two, to cease Mundaring Sharing’s lease and create two separate leases with conditions.
The conditions included the requirement for Little Possums daycare to submit a business case as soon as possible.
The chief executive will then prepare a report on the business case for council to consider.
The alternative passed 10-1 with Cr Fisher expressing concerns.
“The reasons why option two is not possible have to do with good governance,” she said.
“The council has had limited information provided and has many uncertainties to make a decision.
“Mundaring Sharing has communicated that its strategic plan is to expand its adult education program, and increase its appeal to seniors.
“The Shire has no authority to interfere and reduce the area and facilities of the lease, terminating the lease is an interference in Mundaring Sharing’s business, interfering is wrong and may pose a legal risk to the Shire.”
Cr Tony Brennan disagreed and said the Shire did not need a reason to terminate the lease provided there was a six-month notice period.
Chief executive Jonathan Throssell said council could not direct Mundaring Sharing on how to conduct its business but could decide to terminate the lease and enter into a new one.
“Little Possums is a service provided by Mundaring Sharing, it is not a separate entity, so it is open to Mundaring Sharing to cease that service,” he said.
“They are acting in accordance to their rules.
“Council cannot intervene and tell Mundaring Sharing to do something, all that council can do is determine whether the lease with Mundaring Sharing should be terminated.”
About 100 people were present at the meeting with six people making deputations in support of Little Possums residing at their current location, or expressing disappointment with Mundaring Sharing’s handling of the issue, and four made deputations in support of the adult learning centre.
In closing, Cr Jason Russell made reference to the animosity felt by both parties in the past three weeks and encouraged those involved to move forward.
“For now I think they should seek to settle their differences and work cooperatively,” he said.
“It’s not too late to bury the hatchet, you’re going to be in the same facility and you need to work together.
“Moving on from tonight I hope both groups find ways to overcome their differences and recognize their common values.”