City of Ballarat councillors have deferred their decision regarding support for the construction of an interpretive centre next to the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
Councillors voted five to four in favour of councillor Ben Taylor's deferral motion, which came after an alternate motion from councillor Amy Johnson to continue to work with the trustees towards an interpretive centre.
Mayor Daniel Moloney seconded the deferral motion with councillors Johnson, Belinda Coates and Tracey Hargreaves voting in favour of the deferral.
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Presenting on the item, Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial trustee Bill Bahr said the trustees had not provided input on the report presented to council, which he said was based on outdated plans.
"The trustees have not contributed to the report which has a number of inaccuracies and appears to be a copy and paste job. The report to council fails to include any of the positives the interpretive centre would bring to Ballarat," he said. "We have created a memorial that educates, both pictorially and electronically, the future leaders of our country."
Cr Taylor said council was in an awkward place with the vote not for a formal permit application.
"For me, in making a decision, I don't feel that informed. Right now, where we are, I don't feel comfortable with what's being presented. To mark it off as not happening is of concern. I think we should still be looking at, if there is a centre, how it relates to the memorial and what it looks like," he said.
Cr Moloney said councillors would benefit from more time for an in-depth briefing with the trustees. "I would personally feel councillors would benefit from a more in-depth briefing on the benefits. I think councillors owe it to the trustees to have as much information as they can to make their decision on," he said.
The original officer recommendation was that council not support the potential construction of an interpretive centre in the gardens. It also stated that consideration may be given should the trustees of the Australia Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial identify alternative locations outside of the Botanical Gardens or its surrounds.
The council officer report said the heritage value of the proposed location was the key factor in the recommendation.
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