'All-out war' to erupt over Slade
AS the dust settles from Slade’s glitzy helicopter visit on Thursday, emotions seem far from doing the same with talk of an “all-out” war erupting should a third party be given a chance to snap up the campus.
As reported in the Daily News yesterday, a group of people – believed to be Middle East investors – descended on Slade Campus early yesterday afternoon for a tour guided by council staff.
Their visit is believed to be related to establishing Slade as a potential base for overseas student pilots being trained at Massie aerodrome, causing anger among the local groups who have previously submitted their expressions of interest in the campus.
Slade Lives Again president Ian Perkins was “aghast” to wake up yesterday morning to the news that outside parties had been given a tour of the Slade Campus, despite the deadline for expressions of interest having closed.
“We were stunned and aghast to read that headline in the Daily News,” he said.
“We don’t understand and honestly we’re horrified that they may be entertaining offers from someone outside of the process.
“As far as we’re concerned, we are in a legally binding process with the council and we have met all their deadlines.”
When asked if he thought the visit may signal the beginning of the end of the fight to save Slade, Mr Perkins defiantly replied: “No, this isn’t the end, it’s just the start”.
“If council wants to start behaving like that, then it’s all-out war,” Mr Perkins said.
Mr Perkins said it was ironic he was in a meeting to plan a feasibility study, which is set to cost the group between $40,000 and $50,000 just hours after the glitzy red helicopter descended on Slade.
Answers on who the visitors were, where they are from and what their interest in the campus may be remained yesterday, with Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Ron Bellingham out of town and offering little insight.
Cr Bellingham did say it was his understanding the group involved in Thursday’s visit had been to the town before but wouldn’t elaborate on who they may be or the reason for the previous visit.
He said he believed the interest was about a flying school, but reinforced the group had not submitted an expression of interest and would be unable to do so due to having missed the deadline.
Although he said the two “legitimate” players, – the SLA group and Warwick Christian College – should not be fearful of where the visit would leave them, Cr Bellingham conceded it was possible both tenders would be rejected and outside interest would come into play.
“What is very clear is council is not obligated to accept any tender but the focus at this stage will be on those invited to tender,” he said.
“The opportunity is probably there for a few of them to work together for something that is both beneficial to the community and financially viable,” he said.
Cr Bellingham said the two groups offered “attractive alternatives” and said council had a moral responsibility to see out the process which had already begun.
“What we’re hoping is these guys are people who are looking at becoming one of our major clients and we would certainly be interested in speaking with them in that case,” he said.
CEO John Lyndon of Christian Community Ministries said while it was concerning an outside party was brought in to view Slade, it would not affect their overall plan.
“It is a concern other parties have been brought onto the site but I would expect SDRC to follow the processes they have been following,” he said.
“Our board has endorsed going to tender and we have been given approval to do so.”