BAYSIDE council has spent $64,000 on a bravery memorial garden that has been dismissed as a waste of ratepayers’ money by members of the Australian Bravery Association.
The garden, unveiled by the council on Monday, is in the Triangle Gardens on the corner of Beach Road and Linacre Road in Hampton.
Bayside councillor and Australian Bravery Association member James Long welcomed the memorial, saying it recognised people who had risked their lives in acts of bravery.
But his praise was challenged by a member of the association’s national executive, David Hewett-Lacon, who said the association had no links with the memorial garden.
Mr Hewett-Lacon, of Canberra, said Mr Long had never mentioned the project to association members and he saw the garden as an unnecessary cost for Bayside council.
“It seems to be an awful lot of money for something that seems to be out of self interest,” he said.
Mr Long, who was awarded a bravery medal in 2000 after throwing himself on to a moving car to apprehend a bagsnatcher, denied any self interest in the garden .
He said he had declared his interest to the council and excused himself from discussing the gardens at council meetings.
“It’s about people, and about a place where a visitor to Bayside can reflect,” he said.
The gardens upgrade, featuring a new path, a wheelchair-access drinking fountain and a 1000-plant garden, is an extension to an existing monument erected in 1924.
Mayor Louise Cooper-Shaw said the site was a place to remember people who braved “perilous circumstances” to save a person or property.
Bayside Ratepayers Association president George Reynolds said he did not understand why the council had prioritised the development of a bravery memorial.
Mr Reynolds said the gardens represented only a select group in the community.
George Reynolds and resident Marcus Bastiaan at the garden