Shack owners prepare for court

Members of the 12 families who own shacks on Wildens Way, Murray Bridge. Photo: Supplied.
Members of the 12 families who own shacks on Wildens Way, Murray Bridge. Photo: Supplied.

A lawyer acting for a group of shack-owners on Wildens Way has told the Rural City of Murray Bridge that a Supreme Court order will be sought in the next step of a dispute.

In a letter to the lawyer representing the council, James Levinson, of Botten Levinson Lawyers, informed the council of its intent to proceed, as a result of deepening issues.

Earlier this month, Mr Levinson asked the council on behalf of the owners to reconsider selling the land that the shacks are built on to the buildings' owners, instead of saving it for community use.

The council had originally agreed to sell the shacks, but pulled out in December after realising the land had been classified as "community use" 12 years before.

Mr Levinson argued that the classification was invalid in a number of ways. In his initial 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 public consultation which closes on Friday, March 27, 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.

They asked for a response from the council by the end of March 13, and if there was no adequate response, proceedings would be pursued without further notice. But the council continued with consultation on its long-term plan for the Wildens Way site. This includes demolishing the shacks when the leases expire in 2061.

Earlier this month, council chief executive Michael Sedgman said he had directed the council's lawyers to respond to the initial letter from the shack-owners' lawyer, but was keen to learn what the community wanted for the land. "We are committed to the process around the development of a community land management plan, and we are genuinely seeking feedback from the community during the public consultation process," he said. In the latest letter, Mr Levinson told the council that "our clients are preparing to institute proceedings which will be served in due course once they are settled and filed".