There have been horses kept at East Point since 1939 according to the Fannie Bay Equestrian Club (FBEC). When I was growing up Dad would take us up there to feed the horses carrots.
There are various stories about how the club came to be there and what “promises” were made when the land was handed over to the Darwin City Council in 1983. I have no doubt that the topic of the future of FBEC in its present premises has been a discussion point since that time.
The topic of the lease that FBEC currently holds and their future on East Point was a discussion that our Council held over a couple of years.
The issue was that we needed to give them 5 years notice if we were to not renew their lease.
Ultimately the Council decided in my absence in 2015 to give FBEC notice.
I am on public record that I did not agree with this decision and would have voted against it. It is also a matter of public record that I voted against the recent decision not to negotiate with the FBEC to explore if they could stay on East Point.
Council’s position as to why we want to resume the 15 hectares currently occupied by FBEC at peppercorn rent is clear.
The land should be returned to public use, where everyone is given the opportunity to have access to this land.
As the city develops there is no doubt that public open space will be at a premium. There is also no doubt that while the FBEC remains at their present site access to that land will be restricted to the general public.
Why I do not support this decision
I think that there is room for both.
I believe that the FBEC could be asked to relinquish some of the occupied land and that the topic of rent should be discussed, particularly as there is a caretaker on the land as well.
There was no community consultation surrounding this decision.
It would be interesting to ask the general community, even now, what they think about the occupation of land at East Point by FBEC.
They have a Facebook page and a petition has been established. I encourage everyone to participate in this community debate.