Main Roads is under fire

Calls for an inquiry into Main Roads land acquisition practices are being made by a Perth solicitor’s firm.

McLeod & Co claim Main Roads have taken a course of unfair and aggressive behaviour toward the former owners of the Claisebrook Junction Tavern in East Perth, Bob and Fran Sharp, by depriving them of reasonable compensation.

Main Roads have been asked to pay more than $1 million to the owners of the tavern demolished for the Northbridge tunnel.

The calls for an inquiry follow from an interview given by Main Roads to ABC News.

In the interview the Main Roads spokesman said it was a shame the case had to go to court.

McLeod & Co have labelled the comments made by the spokesman during the interview as “false and misleading”.

In the interview, the Main Roads spokesman said Main Roads “had extended our offer from $700,000 to $900,000 at one stage during the mediation process. I think it is disappointing this wasn’t accepted because the outcome is that we have gone to court for a judgement that is not much in excess of that.”

A statement issued by McLeod & Co says the Sharps were shocked by Main Roads claims of offering $900,000 compensation.

“That offer was never communicated to them by Main Roads,” the statement said.

“In fact, $710,000 was the best Main Roads would offer until part way through the case, when substantial litigation costs had been incurred, and the offer was increased to $800,000.

“The Sharps and their lawyers were never told of the $900,000 offer,” it said.

“Had a realistic offer been communicated to the Sharps, they may well have accepted to save themselves the stress, anguish and cost of a four-and-a-half week trial.

“Main Roads would have saved the Government a heavy burden of costs if they had been prepared to negotiate a settlement around that figure instead of rejecting the proposal out of hand.”

The Sharps’ lawyers say there are twelve other instances where Main Roads has used its position as a government agency in land resumption cases to deprive dispossessed owners of fair and reasonable compensation for land.

They say an inquiry into Main Roads land resumption practices may very well disclose serious abuses of government money and resources to achieve an end which often is unfair to dispossessed owners.

A spokesman for Transport and Main Roads Minister Murray Criddle said more specific details would be needed before any response could be made on the calls by the lawyers.

Main Roads declined to comment on the case until final settlement had been made.

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