Club denied new lease on life
A ‘COSTLY’ and ‘exhaustive’ review into Ballina’s long-running croquet war has been completed by NSW Lands Minister Tony Kelly.
The Minister yesterday said he stood by the lease that was signed in October last year.
This means the Ballina Croquet Club will not get its independence from the Ballina Bowling and Recreation Club – something it desperately wants.
Instead, the lease for Hampton Park will remain with the bowling club, which recently set up a second croquet club.
Mr Kelly said the current five-year lease between Ballina Shire Council, the croquet club and the bowling club was ‘watertight’.
“It was signed by the then executive of the croquet club and, while it is unfortunate it does not now meet with the satisfaction of the new president of the club, I do not believe there are any grounds to warrant intervention,” he said.
“The investigation into this matter has been a costly exercise and has now been completed and I urge both croquet clubs to accept the outcome and move forward.”
But the emotional battle for control of the lawns is not over yet.
Ballina Croquet Club president Mary Hughes said she was ‘incredibly disappointed’ with the Minister’s decision.
“I still disagree with the bowling club having the lease because of the bullying and intimidation,” she said.
Ms Hughes also said Mr Kelly’s statement contained several factual errors and the club has demanded that it be retracted.
“Given the inaccuracies and misleading information it is obvious that the investigation was cursory and relied on misleading sources of information,” she said.
The croquet club’s captain, Julie O’Brien, said it was ‘a slap in the face’ that The Northern Star found out about the Minister’s decision before the club.
“It’s all been very underhanded,” she said.
But deputy chairman of the Ballina Bowling and Recreation Club board, Ken Clarke, said it was now time to ‘go forward’.
“We never expected the Minister’s decision to be anything else,” he said.
“We hope we are now in a position where the croquet club will talk to us, so that all of the issues can finally be resolved.
“I imagine that down the track the two croquet clubs will amalgamate, but for the moment they can co-exist.”