ROSEBUD West residents opposed to changing the suburb’s name to Capel Sound have a month to lodge objections with the Registrar of Geographic Place Names.
They can object either by saying the naming authority did not consider the objections during its deliberations, or the proposal does not reasonably conform to the Registrar’s guidelines.
Of the 5600 letters sent out, 1065 were returned supporting the name change and 837 were against – a majority of 228. About two-thirds of the letters were not returned.
Councillors voted 7:4 to accept the result of the poll at the Monday 11 April meeting.
The shire will now send letters to residents and ratepayers advising that it supports the name change, before advising the Registrar of Geographic Place Names of its support for the name change and sending in supporting documents. A final decision will be made within 30 days.
A relieved Capel Sound name change campaigner Terry Wright said: “That’s it” after the successful conclusion to an 18-month campaign.
“We had the vote and we are grateful to the big numbers of people who supported it,” he said.
He admitted to “getting a few pats on the back” but wouldn’t be drawn on the bona fides of negative comments on social media. “That stuff on Facebook is unaccountable and we don’t see the point in going there because it muddies the water.
“We are following up on the people who said [the name change] was not a good decision; it’s hard to understand.
“It’s a good name and many people were already using it; it’s the only name of a town with a reference to a feature of the bay: sound. What we did was all above board and now it’s just a matter of taking it to finalisation.”
In a controversial move, council officers sought permission from the Office of Geographic Names to analyse the survey results based on ‘YES’, ‘NO’ and ‘No response received’ when deciding a majority.
This did not include the conventional tacit approval for non-returned forms, which shire officers said would ensure an “equitable approach” to determining a majority vote.
Officers said in a report to council that the Registrar of Geographic Place Names had agreed that tacit approval in the poll – where a non-returned form signifies a No vote – would “not be appropriate to include given the potential impact on survey results and provided an exemption for council to exclude it”.
This information was included in the report to council on 23 November.
The mayor Cr Graham Pittock, whose Seawinds ward covers Rosebud West, said the Office of Geographic Places Names would look at supporting evidence before making its final decision.
“The council followed due process [in the poll] and the will of the residents and the matter was democratically decided,” he said.
Referring to the absence of tacit approval Cr Pittock said: “It was quite clear that if people didn’t vote their views would not be recorded, whether they approved the name change or not.”
“To councillors like me who were on the sidelines it was a clear indication that the majority were in favour of the change.”
Seawinds ward’s Cr Antonella Celi, while agreeing that the shire’s handling of the poll was “straight down the line”, said she was “not convinced the majority of residents wanted the name change”.
An “in congruency in the voting process caused people to be confused” – both those voting for and against.
“That’s why people are sceptical now. They feel they missed their opportunity to have their say,” she said.
“Many thought the pro-name change campaign was authorised by the council but it wasn’t and they feel mislead.
“The appeals process is quite specific and we do have a vigilant community who will now be taking their grievance to the Registrar and Minister (Richard) Wynne.”