Suttons Beach Pavilion action ramps up

Suttons Beach Pavilion action ramps up

Community action to save Suttons Beach Pavilion is ramping up with peaceful protests, another petition, a Go Fund Me campaign and a meeting with council all in motion. We speak with the group leading the charge about what’s happening and how they rate their chances.

President of the Suttons Beach Pavilion Preservation Group (SBPPG) Jodie Starr said the group would meet with Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery, CEO Greg Chemello and council officers on Thursday at the council’s Strathpine administration centre.

They also have a peaceful rally planned for February 20 at 10am at Suttons Beach Pavilion.

A separate group of residents has organised a protest outside the Council’s Caboolture chambers before its general meeting on Wednesday morning, two residents are listed to speak about the issue during community comment.

Jodie confirmed a representative from the group would be speaking at the meeting but says the protest has not been organised by the Suttons Beach Pavilion Preservation Committee.

It follows the launch of a Go Fund Me page, which aims to raise $20,000 to cover SBPPG campaign costs and help it raise awareness of its fight to save the landmark from demolition.

Jodie says the money will be used to raise awareness and communicate their message, not to restore the buildings. It will be administered by the Save Suttons Beach Pavilion Preservation Committee.

“We want to make sure everything is legit and by-the-book,” she says.

Why demolition is being considered

Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) is considering the pavilions’ future, with demolition a real option if the building is too damaged to save.

It was revealed last month that the Suttons Beach Pavilion restaurant will close at the end of this month and Council will conduct a detailed assessment of the structures with earlier engineers’ reports flagging serious defects and ongoing water damage.

Council says a definitive answer on whether the buildings can be saved and accurate cost will not be clear until invasive testing is complete.

“Based on what we know at this stage, if the buildings can be saved at all, it would cost well over $10 million,” a council spokesman says.

He says the cost is an estimation and based on the “substantive works” not listed in the engineers’ reports, which have been made public.

The SBPPG has questioned the cost and took its own group of experts through the buildings last week.

In a press release, the group says: “The MBRC decision to expel the restaurant operator and commence destructive testing of the Suttons Pavilion is based on a flawed interpretation by MBRC of these four consulting engineers and two heritage architectural reports and cannot be justified”. “

“The risks have been significantly exaggerated and are in stark contrast to the actual specific recommendations made in these six professional reports.

“Critical review of these six reports find they DO NOT recommend evacuation or destructive testing of the building. Non-destructive structural testing and waterproofing investigation could easily be achieved WITHOUT disturbance to current trading business or risk to the public or staff.

“The Suttons Beach Pavilion Preservation Committee have alternatives to propose to council, but these will be discussed with the council at an upcoming meeting on Thursday.”

Mayor Peter Flannery has revealed in 2019 $500,000 was allocated towards the restoration of the iconic building, however further "bad news" arrived when engineering reports revealed that the deterioration to the structure was unsalvageable.

“We sent the officers away a number of times, we wanted to save the building, but they kept coming back with the bad news," he said on ABC Radio Brisbane.

“On further investigation by the officers we’ve seen there’s deterioration a lot worse than originally thought and the structure’s becoming unsafe.

“Last thing we want to do is demolish a beautiful building which has been there 80-plus years but every report says the same thing. It’s reached the end of its life.”

E-petition to State Government

Jodie says SBPPG has also started an e-petition, which has to be lodged with the Queensland Parliament by February 22. This is separate to the change.org.au petition and the paper petition which is circulating in the community.

It will be presented to the State Government, whereas the paper petition will be submitted to Moreton Bay Regional Council. Council does not accept petitions from online platforms.

Jodie says volunteers are still counting signatures collected last weekend for the paper petition, but she believes about 6000 have been collected so far.

Council started a public consultation process on February 11, to be conducted online via the ‘Your Say Moreton Bay’ website. It will remain active for a full month before community feedback is collated and considered.

Printed versions of the survey are available at Redcliffe Library and Council’s Redcliffe Administration Centre.

Jodie says many members of her group and residents in the community are not happy with the way some questions were framed in the survey.

Some say they are biased or loaded and do not give them the options they want to express their viewpoint.

“Many are choosing the ‘other’ option and writing their own answers. We want people to fill it out. We would have rathered the questions to not be as targeted to one side of the story,” Jodie says.

When asked about the response council has had to the survey, a Council spokesman said: “community engagement is currently underway, with the results to be prepared and reported back to the community in early April.

“The next step will be to conduct invasive testing on the building to determine the extent of the damage and provide this information to the community,” he said.

Mayor Peter Flannery has said: “We will put that tender out as soon as the tenants vacate. I certainly hope to see local companies delivering this work, so if you’re not already registered with our Local Buy website jump online and do that today.”

What the group wants

SBPPG wants to see the buildings restored and if that is not possible, a replica built that is almost identical to what is on the site today using the same art deco style.

“As for what goes in it, the community would love a restaurant, café and fish and chips shop,” Jodie says.

The group is concerned when the present tenant vacates the structure it will be a magnet for vandals and squatters and damaged further.

She says the community had been “super supportive” of the campaign, asking for stickers and signs to display.

Changes have been made to the group’s Facebook page, following a number of contentious posts made by members of the public

“We have just made a few changes to the group. There was always going to be people out there that have their own conspiracy theories about what has gone on and who’s responsible. That’s not what we’re about,” Jodie says.

She says all posts now have to be approved by an administrator before they appear in a bid to stop misinformation and defamation.

Other measures have been taken to better moderate comments.

She said the growth of the page to 2400 members in just a couple of weeks had been challenging for the administrators.

So, how rate their chances in saving the structures?

“At this point, I do feel confident in our campaign. I don’t know what the outcome will be until we have the meeting with council (on Thursday),” Jodie says.

“I feel confident that we’ve achieved some headway.”

She also feels the group now has open lines of communication with Cr Karl Winchester.

Have your say in Council's survey here

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