Compromise sought in sign saga

Published on 12 November 2019

A man sitting at a desk behind a stack of folders

Council has sought a compromise regarding a local group's push to overturn the result of the gateway signage competition.

An Extraordinary Meeting called by Councillors Tom Kennedy and Bob Algate was held tonight in an attempt to overturn the competition outcome and install the designs of local Deanna Spicer, who was unsuccessful in the competition.

The motion to overturn the result was not supported, and Mayor Darriea Turley AM then tabled a Mayoral Minute at the meeting calling for Council to honour its commitment to the original competition winner, Joe Scerri, and install his design at the city's road entrances.

The Mayor also requested that Council improve the location and visibility of the existing sign on Adelaide Road, and incorporate a number of Ms Spicer's designs around town as public art pieces if they are judged to be structurally sound and free of any copyright issues.

The Mayoral Minute was carried and Mayor Turley said she believed the outcome represented a good compromise between all parties.

"This approach allows us to honour our obligations to the winning artist, but also showcase the art of a local designer," said Mayor Turley.

"If public recognition of a local artist's work was truly the goal of the group supporting Ms Spicer, then I feel this outcome should leave them satisfied.

"My thoughts do go out to Mr Scerri however. He entered this competition in good faith and I feel his work has been terribly disrespected by some people during their approach to this matter."

Mayor Darriea Turley AM said she would have supported Council's stance regardless of the meeting's outcome, but lamented that poor governance around Cr Kennedy's original motion had ultimately led to the current state of affairs surrounding the sign.

"If Councillors wanted non-locals to be excluded from the competition, or the entries of locals to be favouritised, then this information needed to be specified in the original motion or communicated during the competition's preparation," said Mayor Turley.

"Councillor Kennedy's original motion to hold a competition was passed with almost no rigour or governance around it, and it was left to other Councillors and staff to implement these measures through the 'Our Economy' Key Direction Working Group.

"All Councillors were informed of the proposed process for running the competition before it launched and were even shown the winning design before the artist himself was notified.

"On both occasions they provided no feedback, and we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of publicly debating the competition's parameters and outcome.

"If Councillors' ultimate aim was to simply have locally designed signs installed then they should have supported a motion stating as much and saved everyone a significant amount of work and money."

Mayor Turley said Council needed to be more diligent when creating or adopting motions in future to avoid situations like tonight.

"This should serve as a lesson to all Councillors not to adopt policy on the run, and only accept motions that have adequate thought and planning behind them,' she said.

"We need to implement proper processes in the first instance rather than be seen second-guessing our own decisions a year later."