Wildens Way shack owners threaten legal action over Murray Bridge council decision

Members of the 12 families who own shacks on Wildens Way, Murray Bridge have urged the council to reconsider selling to them - or face legal action. Photo: Supplied.
Members of the 12 families who own shacks on Wildens Way, Murray Bridge have urged the council to reconsider selling to them - or face legal action. Photo: Supplied.

The Murray Bridge council has been threatened with legal action over a long-term plan to demolish shacks on Wildens Way.

A lawyer acting for the shack owners wrote to the council last week, asking it to reconsider a decision to save land on Wildens Way for community use instead of selling it to them.

The council pulled out of a deal to sell the shacks in December after realising it had overlooked the classification, made 12 years earlier.

The council is currently seeking public feedback on its long-term plan for the Wildens Way land, which includes demolition of the shacks after their leases expire in 2061.

But Botten Levinson Lawyers principal James Levinson argued that the 2007 community land classification - which underpins the council's plan - was invalid.

In his letter to the council, he suggested the council had denied the shack owners "procedural fairness" by failing to consult them at the time; had breached its own public consultation policy for the same reason; and made the decision based on an internal report he described as "woefully inadequate".

On that basis, he demanded that the council cancel the current public consultation, undo the community land classification, and restart talks with the shack owners.

If it did not do so, he said, the shack owners would seek to have the classification revoked in the Supreme Court, and to recover any legal costs from the council.

"If no adequate response to this request is received by close of business on 13 March, then our clients intend to pursue proceedings without further notice," he said.

'Give us a chance'

Wildens Way Shack Owners Association spokesman Brenton Smith said he and his neighbours wanted the council to reconsider its decision not to sell up.

He said the shack owners' $4.7 million offer for the land had far exceeded a council valuation which had valued it at $750,000.

"We believe this council should draw a line in the sand, take responsibility for the mistakes made by previous councils and return to the sale process," he said.

"We want people to understand that we are looking to secure our ongoing place in the Murray Bridge community, which a number of us have had as part of our lives for 60 years; to continue our care of this section of the river, as we have done for four generations; and, in so doing, inject millions of dollars into the council's coffers to allow the realisation of its plans for other parts of the riverfront."

As well as seeking legal advice, the shack owners hired a former editor of The Murray Valley Standard, Haley Tamblyn - now a public relations consultant - to craft their message to the newspaper.

The council later responded to the shack owners' concerns.


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