CITY OF SWAN HITS BACK AT SHALOM HOUSE:

Ellenbrook Advocate - - FRONT PAGE - Lisa Thomas

THE City of Swan has hit back at “mis­in­for­ma­tion” it says is be­ing spread by Shalom House founder Peter Lyn­don-James over a lon­grun­ning dis­pute about the res­i­den­tial re­hab fa­cil­ity.

Swan Mayor Mick Wainwright said “in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion” was be­ing com­mu­ni­cated in the pub­lic realm.

The City of Swan and Mr Lyn­don-James have been em­broiled in a bat­tle since 2015 af­ter the res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity in Hen­ley Brook was told to shut down be­cause it did not meet res­i­den­tial zon­ing re­quire­ments.

The mat­ter is now be­fore the Supreme Court fol­low­ing a hear­ing in Jan­uary this year af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful me­di­a­tion at the State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal.

Cr Wainwright said the “mis­in­for­ma­tion” be­ing spread had be­come a con­cern.

“First of all, the is­sue is not and has never been the Shalom House pro­gram. Coun­cil and I con­tinue to be­lieve it plays an im­por­tant role in the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of drug and al­co­hol de­pen­dents,” he said.

“The is­sue is that it is our job to make sure all mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, not just a se­lect few, con­tinue to be pro­tected by and ben­e­fit from the City’s lo­cal plan­ning laws.”

He said the coun­cil had to en­sure lo­cal laws were up­held.

“If the City were to change its plan­ning laws in the man­ner sug­gested by the State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal, to al­low Shalom House to op­er­ate in the Swan Val­ley, there could be on­go­ing con­se­quences for all res­i­dents... as it could open the re­gion up to ad­verse devel­op­ment,” he said.

Cr Wainwright said once the Supreme Court handed its de­ci­sion down, the coun­cil would work with Shalom House to find an op­tion to sat­isfy both par­ties.

“Con­trary to re­cent opin­ions expressed pub­licly, the City and coun­cil have been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Shalom House since re­ceiv­ing the first com­plaint in 2015,” he said

How­ever, Mr Lyn­don-James said the state­ments made by the City of Swan were “in­cor­rect, mis­lead­ing and un­truth­ful”.

“From the very be­gin­ning, meet­ing re­quests were placed to speak with the Mayor, the CEO and coun­cil­lors about where we can move,” he said.

“Two years, mul­ti­ple re­fusals to meet with me, 70 ad­di­tional res­i­dents and 45 more staff later, the mayor is say­ing we could op­er­ate else­where within the City of Swan.

“This would have been very help­ful when we had 30 res­i­dents and five staff had they agreed to meet with me.

“Un­less the mayor can come up with 10 other prop­er­ties big enough to fit all of this and a way to fund this re­lo­ca­tion, I am afraid his op­tion of mov­ing ‘else­where’ is too lit­tle, too late.

“I be­lieve the City has han­dled our case dis­hon­estly, un­eth­i­cally and be­hind closed doors. They have not done what they are elected to do – rep­re­sent me, my staff, my res­i­dents and other com­mu­nity mem­bers.”

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