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Belmont offers peace deal to BGC

THE City of Belmont has moved to bring an end to its five-year legal battle with BGC company Homestyle.

WA Business News understands Belmont councillors voted to offer a $300,000 out-of-court settlement to Home-style at a special council meeting on January 12.

City of Belmont acting CEO Neil Hartley said he could not comment on the matter due to its confidential nature. It was listed in the meeting’s agenda simply as “Legal Issue”.

“But I don’t think it is any secret that the city is in dispute with on ongoing legal action between the city and Homestyle,” he said.

At council’s December 15 meeting a memo reporting on ongoing legal action between the city and Homestyle was noted as an information only item.

WA Business News also understood councillors were given three options: to pay $180,000 and enter into a legal battle over the remainder; pay $300,000 and face a smaller risk of further legal action; or to pay more than $400,000.

Mr Hartley, again citing confidentiality concerns, said he could not comment on the options councillors were offered.

The legal stoush dates back to 1998 when the Len Buckeridge-owned Homestyle put in a $3 million tender for the refurbishment of the council chambers.

Homestyle was seen to be the preferred tenderer for the work, however council awarded the contract to Link Interiors.

Council later discovered that Link Interiors was not a registered builder.

This triggered the legal action between Homestyle and the council.

The council buildings are currently being refurbished by Cooper and Oxley for around $8 million.

The settlement caps a busy week for the notoriously media-shy Mr Buckeridge.

Through the week there have been several reports, firstly over a Christmas Eve meeting with Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union secretary Kevin Reynolds regarding an enterprise bargaining agreement for a development in the Pilbara.

There were also reports about a land deal between the BGC chief and Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan regarding land on Troode Street, West Perth.

The enterprise bargaining talks have caused some concern in the building industry.

Mr Buckeridge has been renowned for his opposition to signing any EBA with the CFMEU.

There have been fears that the CFMEU would use any capitulation from Mr Buckeridge to force other builders to sign its EBA.

One building industry source said they would probably use the tactic of “see, even Lenny [Buckeridge] signed”.

However, BGC insiders have said that while the meeting between Mr Buckeridge and Mr Reynolds took place, there have been no negotiations regarding the EBA.

Master Builders Association executive director Michael McLean said it was important builders did not read too much into the news reports regarding the EBA.

“My reading of it is that this EBA only covers one project and does not cover the rest of BGC’s commercial building activities,” he said.

Neither Mr Buckeridge nor Mr Reynolds could be reached for comment.

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