Swap meet organiser starts action against Ballarat council CEO

Updated November 2 2012 - 5:34am, first published May 16 2011 - 4:44am
SWAP MEET: Thousands flocked to the event over the years. File picture: Andrew Kelly.

GREAT Super Southern Swap meet organiser Trevor Wolstenholme has started a defamation action against Ballarat City Council chief executive officer Anthony Schinck.Local law firm Cinque Oakley Senior has confirmed its representation of Mr Wolstenholme and that the City of Ballarat has been notified of the claim.Mr Wolstenholme has demanded a written retraction and apology without reservation from Mr Schinck for comments the CEO made last month about the veracity of a photocopy of a council-issued invoice.In correspondence addressed to Mayor Craig Fletcher dated April 18, Mr Wolstenholme’s lawyers request pre-approval of the apology and that it be placed on the council’s website and in The Courier.The letter also specifies costs at $2000 and damages to be agreed.Public comments by Mr Schinck were “highly damaging and defamatory”, according to the letter seen by The Courier.The letter said the meaning of comments by Mr Schinck was that Mr Wolstenholme was a liar and had acted in a criminal way.In part, the letter said it was difficult to estimate the number of people whose opinion of Mr Wolstenholme had been “affected in an adverse way”.“But I can tell you that a number of persons both known and not known to my client have approached him to ask direct questions as to his conduct and he has been forced to defend his good name and reputation,” the letter said.“The correction, retraction and apology should be without reservation and must contain wording to be agreed upon.”The letter states an invoice dated March 9 for $6000 plus $600 GST was issued by council on March 9, 2011, and was correct according to a licence agreement for the swap meet site signed on January 15, 2009.After initially claiming the amount was wrong last month, Mr Schinck admitted a mistake had been made and there was “a confusion around the process” which led to the error.Last month The Courier reported the Super Southern Swap Meet would cease operation after more than 22 years.At the time Mr Wolstenholme said new conditions under a council lease had left him with no option but to abandon the event.Yesterday Mr Schinck said he had offered to apologise to Mr Wolstenholme.“But they (his lawyers) weren’t happy with my response and they are continuing proceedings,” he said.While agreeing the council invoice amount of $6600 was correct, Mr Schinck said he was awaiting the results of a council audit to ascertain how he was given incorrect information.Mr Schinck said he was happy for the apology to be placed in The Courier but “didn’t see it necessary” in having it appear on the council website.“We want the event to continue in Ballarat,” Mr Schinck said. “We actually want to work with the organisers to make sure it stays here.”“All we want to do is talk to Trevor and this is the disappointing aspect of this whole outcome.”

Get the latest Ballarat news in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.