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Complaint halts men's group

Group chairman Ron Campbell is angry Men’s Shed has been portrayed as a threat to children.
Group chairman Ron Campbell is angry Men’s Shed has been portrayed as a threat to children. Warren Lynam

A GROUP of semi-retired Coast men has been left hurt and angry after their plans for a social club at Palmwoods were thwarted by claims they could present a danger to children living nearby.

The men started the Sunshine Valley Men’s Shed group as part of the national initiative to improve the health of older men by giving them a chance to socialise and work together.

But the dream has been crushed after a nearby resident made an official complaint to council, saying a large gathering of elderly men could be a danger to local children.

Chairman of this men’s shed, former council candidate Ron Campbell, said the complaint to council referred to a “concern of lascivious behaviour” by members of the group.

“Lascivious” refers to being lewd or driven by lust.

“They felt we would create a risk to their children,” Mr Campbell said.

“He (the complainant) now had to go to the bus stop with his child, instead of letting them walk past.”

The Men’s Shed members were handed a 20-year-lease from Coast philanthropist Ray Grace, who donated a small, unused strawberry farm and shed for their use.

Plans were discussed for the group to help less fortunate children on the Coast, with former mechanics and builders easily capable of building or repairing toys and bikes.

There was even an idea of having the group act as communal “poppies” – acting as ring-in role models so youngsters could learn basic mechanics, how to repair a bike or work on the Palmwoods farm.

“There was no complaint about parking or noise,” Mr Campbell said.

“There was no other complaint but that we might pose a risk of pedophiles.”

The complainant warned council he would pursue any use of the land by the men and have them removed from the site.

So, for now, members can do anything on the land as long as it is considered “rural use”.

Anything beyond that – including any work for the benefit of children or the elderly – will be done at an abandoned Eudlo sawmill which has no electricity, water supply or other facilities.

“This nimrod doesn’t want any of our work to happen,” Mr Campbell said.

“How much good has already been lost because of this?”

He said councillor Jenny McKay and council staff had backed the Sunshine Valley Men’s Shed.

On the council’s behalf, the group is already beginning to restore a dray – or pull-cart – that was once a Eudlo attraction.

“We were all lined up and ready to go,” Mr Campbell said.

“We’re now behind the eight-ball because we have just bare buildings (at Eudlo).

“It puts it all at risk.”

The identity of the complainant is not know to the men and Cr Jenny McKay could not be contacted last night.

“They felt we would create a risk to their children. He (the complainant) now had to go to the bus stop with his child instead of letting them walk past.”

Topics:  complaint council palmwoods



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