An alert reader has notified us of a Statement from the CCR Trustees. Please note several things that we regard as essential:

  • missing totally is any discussion on governance/conflicts of interest issues
  • ironic that only now is an ‘independent’ review of the valuation taking place, plus much much more that we invite residents to comment upon.
  • whatever the reason (ie Jon Faine, Magee, 7.30 Report) there is finally some ‘movement at the station’. That we applaud but still a long, long, long way to go.

Notices

The purpose of this Statement is to set out the current position in relation to negotiations between the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trustee (CRRT) and the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC).

Background

The MRC held a lease over parts of the course including the Grandstand complex, including the Administration office site, Tabaret building site, Eastern car park site for a period of 21years concluding on 22 October 2012.

In addition, the MRC have a lease for the Neerim Road & Western stables for a 21 year period concluding on 15 March 2019 & 27 April 2029 respectively.

The rental received by the Trust under these previously agreed leases (Grandstand and Stables) amounts to $83,946[1] per annum. Additionally, there is a ‘Deed of Maintenance and Development’ between the Trust and the MRC which commits the MRC to do maintenance work on behalf of the Trust to the value of $280,000[2] in the 2012/13 year. The Deed of Maintenance and Development was agreed to in February 1997 and concludes on 16 February 2018.

In late 2011, the Trustee established a ‘Working Group’ to put together a proposal for the Trust in relation to the renegotiation of leases at Caulfield. The ‘Working Group’ comprised three members, one from each of the Trusts constituent parts: MRC, Glen Eira Council and Government appointments.

The starting point for the working group was to establish an understanding of the requirements of Government Policy, and the view of the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. We also sought guidance from the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office [VGSO] and the Valuer General – Victoria [VG-V].

Advice received from the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office, recommended the Trustee seek a restructure of the existing arrangements. The Trustee came to the view that all leases should be brought into line and that there needed to be a Licence agreed between the Trustee and the MRC in respect of the use of Crown Land, by MRC, not covered under the Lease.

In February 2012 the Trustee also commissioned Charter Keck Cramer [CKC] to prepare a preliminary valuation that was consistent with current government policy. That is, where crown land was being used for commercial activity, a retail rental was to be applied and where there was non-exclusive use, a community rate should apply. This estimated ground rental valuation put the rental (Grandstand and Stables) at $822,000 per annum.

In late 2012, the Trustee and the MRC came to the view that negotiations could not be concluded in time to arrange a new lease prior to the expiration of the existing lease. Agreement was reached, with the Minister’s approval, to put in place a 12 month interim lease on existing conditions to give additional time for negotiations.

Accordingly, an interim lease of 12 months was granted on 23 January 2013 concluding on 22 January 2014

On 4 April 2013 a comprehensive proposal setting out the terms the Trustee sought from the MRC for a new lease was put to a meeting of the Trustee for approval. The meeting voted by majority to endorse the proposal.

On 7 May 2013 a letter from the Chairman was sent to the MRC setting out the Trust’s proposal for the renewal of the lease.
The club did not respond formally, but in meetings between the Chairman of the Trust and the MRC Chairman, the Club advised that it would not agree to the proposal; that this would be a significant and deleterious precedent for all racecourses in Victoria and that this was a matter the Government needed to resolve.

On 19 June 2013 the Trust by majority resolution commissioned CKC to complete a full valuation on the same basis, that is, to be consistent with Government policy on the lease of Crown Land and to include these terms in the valuation.

The final valuation put the rental at $1,054,000 per annum. In September 2013 the Trustee wrote to the MRC advising the valuation and providing the MRC with a copy of the CKC final valuation.

The MRC responded to Trustees on 23 December 2013. At the same time they commissioned their own document prepared by m3property strategists that put the market ground rental at $100 per annum.

Current position

On 17 December 2013 the Trustee proposed to the MRC the matter be settled by arbitration through the Valuer General – Victoria.

As the current lease was about to expire (22 April 2014) and the Trustee was concerned at the possible impacts, the trustee wrote to the Minister & the MRC on 25 March 2014 proposing the following course:

That the Minister approve the Trust entering into a short term lease (6 months) on condition that if agreement is not reached, the matter be determined by the VG -V and both parties will be bound by the VG- V determination.

The MRC responded on 28 March 2014 declining to go to arbitration, but indicated it would be prepared to have the matter determined by the Minister for Environment & Climate Change on advice from the Valuer General – Victoria.

The Chairman responded on 31 March 2014 indicating that there may be some governance issues with this approach, but if the VG-V determination was made available to both the Trust and the MRC prior to the Minister making a final determination, the Trust would take advice from the Minister and the Department of Primary Industries [DEPI] on this matter.

The Trustee separately wrote to the VG- V requesting an independent review of the CKC valuation.

Representatives had a meeting with the Minister for Environment & Climate Change senior adviser Mr Matthew Berry on 8 April 2014. At that meeting the Trust was advised the Minister’s view was to approve a 3 month lease on existing conditions in order to provide a further opportunity for the Trust and MRC to continue discussions, but that both parties were to make a submission to the VG-V to enable the VG -V to make a determination.

The Trust subsequently received a letter from the Minister for Environment & Climate Change on 14 April 2014 setting out the Minister’s position.

The Chairman responded to the Minister by letter on 29 April 2014.

Currently, the Trust is now working with the Valuer- General Victoria towards a Determination and there are meetings arranged with the MRC to discuss the overall governance arrangements and the conditions under which the MRC will have access to Crown Land that is not covered under the proposed leased areas.


Greg Sword
Chairman
Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust

[1] Annual rental in 2013
[2] Amount of $183,000 in 1996 indexed annually by CPI

 


Meetings

The last meeting of the Trustees of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve [CRR] was held on Tuesday, 18 February 2014.

Download the agenda.

Trustee meetings are not open to the General Public; however the Trustees have resolved that any Glen Eira resident wishing to address a specific Agenda Item as listed by the Trustees, must first submit their request in writing to the Chairman in advance of the CRR Trustees meeting.  The Trustees will then consider the request and, if appropriate, invite the resident to attend for that specific agenda item only.

Correspondence should be addressed to:

The Chairman
Caulfield Racecourse Reserve
Level 1
25 Flinders Lane
Melbourne
VIC 3000

Or emailed to: CRRTrustees@bigpond.com

The date of the second meeting of 2014 of Trustees of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve [CRR] is yet to be finalised, however it is anticipated this will be held in August 2014.


PS – WE’VE DONE A LITTLE MORE HOMEWORK AND DIRECT READERS’ ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING:

At the VEAC Select committee investigation of 2008, the MRC submission included these statements:

The leasing process is managed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment and leases are subject to Governor in Council approval and involve rental payments to the Trustees on commercial terms.

 Porkie No 1. it would seem! Next there was the MRC’s attempt to portray itself as the local community’s saviour in its benevolence in excising some of its land to the general public. Here’s what was stated –

In 1922 however, the Minister for Lands made fourteen acres of the Reserve available for nonracing use. It is this area – Glenhuntly Park – which remains a public park to this day. In the 1960s, for operational reasons Glenhuntly Park was excised from the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve. It remains Crown Land and is maintained by the City of Glen Eira. The allocation of this specific section of the Reserve for parkland in 1922 was commended by the Caulfield Citizens’ Defence League and was said to satisfy their concerns that until then the Reserve was only used for Racing.

Porkie No.2 perhaps since this is only half the truth! The land was NOT given up freely as the above would suggest and only came about after months and months of community protest. The following extracts are taken directly from The Argus of the time (1922) and paint an entirely different version of events. It also shows how very little has changed in the decades since!

The Argus – Page 16:Wednesday 1st March, 1922

CAULFIELD RACECOURSE.

Members of the CaulfieldCitizens’ Defence League protested to the Minister for Lands (Mr.Oman) yesterday that the Caulfield racecourse was not being used for the purpose for which it reserved. Although   it was intended that the area should be used for recreation, horse racing had now practically a monopoly. They asked that the iron fence enclosing the reserve be re moved, and the area improved in the same   way as the Fitzroy gardens. Mr. Oman promised to meet the league on the ground, and discuss the matter with them. He wanted to see the interests of the general public safeguarded.      

The Argue – Page 14 – Saturday 28th October 1922

CAULFIELD RACECOURSE.

In a decision of the Minister for Lands (Air. Oman) on the demand , for greater public use of the Caulfield racecourse reserve an area of 14 acres will be made available to the gcneral public.

Mr. Omans decision provides for-an area of 10 acres to be permanently reserved on the Neerim road side for use -as a public park and gardens.  The high fence at present enclosing-this area will be removed and re-erected on a line to be defined by the Minister, adjoining the racecourse. The new outer- fence adjoining the public road will be sufficient only to protect the hedges and ornamental shrubs. The-cost of this work will be borne by the race course trustees from the grant given by the Victoria Amateur Turf Club for the maintenance of the ground. An area of approximately four acres on the south of the new park area will be made available for recreation purposes.

It is also stipulated that additional openings be made in the fence, enclosing the racecourse to give access to the ground. These gates are to be made available to the public in accordance with the terms of the Crown grant. _ – The gates on the inner side of the stands are to be open daily from 10 o’clock in the morning until 6 o’clock at night, with the exception of 15 days of the year on which racing is held and charges made for admittance. The Victoria Amateur Turf Club will increase its contribution for the maintenance of the Reserve from 600 (pound) to 1000 (pound).

Mr. Oman is confident that the new arrangement will give satisfaction to the Caulfield Citizens’ Defence -League, which asked for greater public facilities in the reserve and to the Victoria Amateur Turf Club, owners, trainers, and others who desired the retention of the reserve for horse racing.

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