Wollondilly CEO says no evidence of wrongdoing on Antill tender

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Ben Taylor, the CEO of Wollondilly Shire Council, says there is no evidence to support claims the tender process for the running of Antill golf course has been compromised.

In a statement posted on the council’s Facebook page, Mr Taylor said that council had not “at this stage’’ been provided any evidence of wrongdoing.

“All tenderers are aware of the need to advise the independent probity advisor of any concerns,’’ Mr Taylor said.

“The independent probity advisor has confirmed today that there is nothing to support any inference or allegation that any part of the tender process has been compromised.’’

Last Friday, radio announcer Ray Hadley read a letter purporting to be from the board of the current golf club.

Mr Hadley said the letter included claims of impropriety surrounding the tender process.

“Council is aware of the community interest in the Antill golf course tender, particularly focussing on ensuring integrity in the tender process,’’ Mr Taylor said in his statement.

“As the matter will be considered by the elected council at its 28 March 2023 meeting, unfortunately under the tendering regulations it would not be appropriate for the Mayor or Councillors to publicly comment right now,’’ he said.

The tender is listed on the agenda for tonight’s meeting, however the matter has been marked as “confidential’’, which means the public and the media will be excluded form the chamber during any debate on who will be granted the lease for Antill golf course.

“However, the Mayor has asked me to make it abundantly clear to the community that council intends on this wonderful piece of public land remaining an 18-hole public golf course,’’ Mr Taylor said.

“Council also wants to see the best possible outcome for the whole Wollondilly community when it makes a decision on the future lease of this site.

The process council has followed in this case is what is required under the Local Government Act. It has involved publicly inviting Expressions of Interest for the operation of the golf course which, under the eye of an independent probity advisor, ensures the process is ethical, open and transparent,’’ Mr Taylor said.

“Our staff have also sought to support the golf club through this process, including extending their lease through to the end of June 2023 to allow for a full year of membership while the EOI process was under way, so members would have certainty during that time.

“The Mayor could not be involved due to the tender process and when approached by the club asked me to meet with them in his stead.

“There is unsurprisingly significant emotion involved with an important tender of this type. Unfortunately, as shown in other council areas, this can lead to rumours, tension and even in some cases external efforts to interfere in the process.

“I understand in this case there have been some concerns circulated in the community regarding the tender process.

 “The final decision on the lease, its tenants and the terms and conditions will be reported to and resolved by the elected Council, in an ethical and appropriate way in line with our approved tender processes.

“I am confident the elected Council has the best interests of the community at heart.’’

The council meeting, which is livestreamed, will start from 6.30pm tonight.

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