HOBART Lord Mayor Rob Valentine has tried to preempt debate by saying the Hobart City Council wants a scramble track around the Battery Point foreshore. In a letter to the Editor (Mercury, 13.11.06), he says “council considers a low impact scramble track as appropriate in this area and, of course, any track would need to be sympathetic to both heritage and environmental issues.”

It sounds like a reasoned statement.  But aldermen have not yet voted on whether they want a scramble track or low tide path, or a built walkway.

Alderman Valentine also says that the Council has been negotiating with the owners of two foreshore properties which have titles beyond the high tide mark — 11 and 13 Marine Terrace —  for the past 12 to 18 months. It sounds as if progress is being made but if negotiations have been going on for 18 months, the reality is a stalemate.

Tasmanian Times can reveal that the property owners claim their land titles extend beyond the low water mark. The HCC can compulsorily acquire land between the high and low water marks, and indeed voted to buy the slip of land between the tide marks on these two properties a year ago,  but it cannot acquire land below the low water mark. Acquisition of land between the tide marks would alienate the land beyond the low water mark, creating a legal quagmire.

Tasmanian Times can also reveal that the 1982 letter (Battery Point: are the titles valid?  and Battery Point: public’s right of access ) from the Director-General of Lands to the then owner of 11 Marine Terrace, has been removed from Council files. The letter demands that the property owner remove fences and other obstacles to public access to the foreshore which were illegally erected on Crown Land. Alderman Valentine says in his letter the present landowners of the two properties in question have legal titles. He also notes that there is still a large fence which impedes public access which the Council wants removed.

Why did Alderman Valentine try to pre-empt debate?

It is worth noting that Alderman Valentine’s campaign manager for the last HCC election was Chris Webster, now a magistrate. Mr Webster is a past political campaign manager for Battery Point foreshore resident John White.

Mr White is chairman of Friends of the Foreshore Inc, which opposes a built walkway around the foreshore. Ken Hosking , co-owner of 11 Marine Terrace, is its vice chairman. Mr White is a committee member of the Battery Point Sullivans Cove Community Association, which also opposes a built walkway, and Mr Hosking is its senior vice president.

A three-member HCC/State Government/Battery Point committee was established in January to look at the issues involved, but has yet to meet.

It’s worth noting that the Battery Point resident on it is Sandra Champion. Ms Champion is a foreshore resident recommended by BPSCCA president David Edwards on the advice of his committee. Mr Edwards stood for the HCC last year and Mr White recommended the BPSCCA give $1000 towards his election campaign, which was approved by the committee. (Both Mr Edwards and this writer were unsuccessful candidates).

Mr Hosking is on record saying that Alderman Valentine is routinely out-voted by a cabal of aldermen, with whom he and the Greens (who own 13 Marine Terrace) have been warring.

In turn,  Mr White and Ms Champion have lodged a complaint with the Anti Discrimination Commissioner against Alderman Marti Zucco over comments he made about them during the Battery Point coffee wars early this year.

Alderman Zucco referred to Mr White as a member of the Battery Point Mafia and that he, Don Zucco, had had enough. Mr White said this had damaged his reputation as a lawyer. Alderman Zucco also said Mr White and Ms Champion should go and live in splendid isolation in central Australia, which they say, suggested an improper relationship.

Such are the Byzantine labyrinths to be navigated in the historic suburb of Battery Point.

Margaretta Pos

It is worth noting that Alderman Valentine’s campaign manager for the last HCC election was Chris Webster, now a magistrate. Mr Webster is a past political campaign manager for Battery Point foreshore resident John White.

Mr White is chairman of Friends of the Foreshore Inc, which opposes a built walkway around the foreshore. Ken Hosking , co-owner of 11 Marine Terrace, is its vice chairman. Mr White is a committee member of the Battery Point Sullivans Cove Community Association, which also opposes a built walkway, and Mr Hosking is its senior vice president.