Batavia Motor Inne owners reaffirm their intention to demolish as the State Government calls for action

The owners of the derelict Batavia Motor Inne say they are moving closer to demolishing the building, as calls grow from the State Government for urgent action.

Discussion has raged on the controversial building this week with Housing and Homelessness Minister John Carey stating the building should be demolished while Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan chimed in during her visit to Geraldton.

The State Government has also written to the owners, urging them to take action.

They want to see the site secured and fenced to prevent trespassing and antisocial behaviour in the derelict buildings and to address the health and safety hazards present.

However, in a statement released this week, 54 Fitzgerald Street Pty Ltd directors Joe Scaffidi, Michael O’Sullivan and Anthony Scaffidi denied receiving a letter from the minister.

The company purchased the property for $572,000 in September 2021, but no progress has been made since.

“The local government is aware we are currently negotiating with demolition contractors having the original contractor (named on the demolition application) advising in August they would no longer be in a position to carry out the works,” they said.

“The fees for the application for demolition have been paid in full. It is our intention to demolish the site and believe our actions to date demonstrate this.

“Once a contractor has been appointed and mobilised, temporary fencing will be installed. At this time we will require the City of Greater Geraldton to assist in bringing the local agencies together in clearing the buildings.”

Speaking in Geraldton on Tuesday, Ms MacTiernan urged the council to “push” to get the building demolished, utilising their powers under the Local Government Act.

“I mean, obviously, we hear that the owner is saying that they will demolish it, that’s good. But I think really, the local government needs to push the full weight of their power to make sure that the owner does do it,” she said.

She also reiterated Mr Carey’s claim that the majority of people who attend the site are not homeless.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the council was ultimately bound by the laws under which the State Government regulate in dealing with “recalcitrant” properties such as the Batavia Motor Inne.

“We will continue doing our level best to level it,” he said.

“There is no question that if the State Government restored the 127 houses they own to service, that we can house all of the people that are actively rough sleepers by an order of three at the moment.”

As to the minister’s claim regarding the occupants of the site, Mr Van Styn said there is a “blend” of people at the Batavia.

“Some are hardcore homeless and reside there. Many utilise it as a short-stay accommodation option for funerals, health services and an already overcrowded hospital as a result of the Geraldton short stay Aboriginal project not being delivered by the State,” he said.

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