Stan­thorpe Sports As­so­ci­a­tion take South­ern Downs Re­gional Coun­cil to court:

SSA su­ing SDRC for dam­ages

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew Pur­cell Matthew.Pur­[email protected]­der­post.com.au

A STOUSH be­tween Stan­thorpe Sports As­so­ci­a­tion and South­ern Downs Re­gional Coun­cil is about to go through the courts.

On Mon­day, Novem­ber 26 the as­so­ci­a­tion lodged a claim with the Mag­is­trates Court of Queens­land seek­ing dam­ages “for breach of the lease in the amount of $26,175.85”.

Ac­cord­ing to so­lic­i­tor for the plain­tiff (SSA), Michael Catan­zaro, the dis­agree­ment dates back more than two years, with the as­so­ci­a­tion al­leg­ing that coun­cil re­fused to meet the terms of its lease agree­ment.

“The Stan­thorpe Sports As­so­ci­a­tion en­tered into a lease with the coun­cil in or around May to June 2016. The lease con­tained terms re­gard­ing the main­te­nance of the fields,” Mr Catan­zaro said.

“These terms were the same terms in essence as has been in place be­tween the coun­cil and the as­so­ci­a­tion for more than 20 years. At no stage did coun­cil in­di­cate to the as­so­ci­a­tion prior to sign­ing the lease that it did not in­tend to con­tinue main­tain­ing the fields in ac­cor­dance with the past or with what the as­so­ci­a­tion were led to be­lieve were the terms of the lease.

“Two days af­ter coun­cil signed the lease, coun­cil ad­vised the as­so­ci­a­tion that, de­spite the terms of the lease, it would ef­fec­tively not be re­spon­si­ble for the main­te­nance of the play­ing fields. “As a re­sult, the as­so­ci­a­tion was forced to take on the field main­te­nance it­self to en­sure that sport can con­tinue to be played and prac­ticed in a safe man­ner,” Mr Catan­zaro said.

As a re­sult, SSA were lev­elled with costs it hadn’t fac­tored in and couldn’t, as a not-for-profit, af­ford to main­tain, he said.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion has in­curred un­ex­pected debts and is re­liant on the good will of many peo­ple to re­main vi­able.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion has ex­hausted many var­i­ous av­enues to re­solve this mat­ter but was not suc­cess­ful.”

Ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts within the claim, it was Mayor Tracy Do­bie who sought to re­nege on the lease agree­ment.

“I made the de­ci­sion that the lease could not go ahead and sought le­gal ad­vice to break the lease. The le­gal ad­vice re­ceived was that the lease had gone too far and could not be bro­ken, how­ever we could set a level of main­te­nance as the clause of the lease was am­bigu­ous.

“The coun­cil has no money. There is no money in the bank. If some­thing hap­pens or there is a dis­as­ter, coun­cil will not be able to get a loan of money,” the mayor is quoted as say­ing in state­ments to SSA ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers on Oc­to­ber 5, 2016.

Mr Catan­zaro said the plain­tiff would ar­gue that the lease was an ‘en­tire agree­ment clause’ and in­di­vid­ual clauses could not be ig­nored.

“In the cir­cum­stances, the as­so­ci­a­tion felt that it had no choice but to seek to en­force, what it be­lieves to be, its rights un­der the lease for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity.

“Our firm, with the as­sis­tance of Stephen R J Bul­low of coun­sel, has agreed to act on be­half of the as­so­ci­a­tion to as­sist with this mat­ter and to this end has agreed that if the claim were un­suc­cess­ful we would not seek pay­ment of our pro­fes­sional costs from the as­so­ci­a­tion,” Mr Catan­zaro said.

Coun­cil has 28 days to re­spond if it wishes to dis­pute the claim.

Coun­cil de­clined to com­ment say­ing “as this is a le­gal mat­ter coun­cil can­not pro­vide com­ment at this time.”

PHOTO: MATTHEW PUR­CELL

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Stan­thorpe Sports As­so­ci­a­tion is tak­ing South­ern Downs Re­gional Coun­cil to court over long-stand­ing dis­agree­ments with re­gard to field main­te­nance.

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