THERE was a busy scene at the Frankston railway station last Wednesday morning when Frankston and district residents entrained for Melbourne to advise the Minister of Lands of the result of the recent High School referendum, and to request him to transfer the old cricket ground to the Education Department for High School purposes.
Ultimately between 60 and 70 enthusiasts squeezed themselves into the Minister’s room and stood three deep around the table.
The Hon. A. Downward introduced the deputation. The large attendance he said, indicated that the question was a live one in Frankston.
He has read in “The Standard” that Frankston had to choose between giving the whole 10 acres of the cricket reserve or lose the High School altogether.
Under the circumstances he felt constrained to take a hand and interviewed Sir Alexander Peacock. He told the Minister of Education that there was no necessity to take 10 acres, as 3 acres would be sufficient.
Sir Alexander agreed with him and said he would accept 3 acres.
Mr. Downward and Sir Alexander Peacock then waited on the Minister of Lands, as Mr. Oman would remember, when Sir Alex. definitely agreed to accept three acres. (Hear, hear).
The Minister for Lands: That is so.
Mr. Downward said he would have found it difficult to support a request for the transfer of the whole reservation, and he was sure members of the deputation had no desire to give away 10 acres if 3 acres would suffice.
Chorus: Quite right.
Continuing, Mr. Downward pointed out the difficulty that would face the people if they had to purchase a site for a school. Land values in Frankston were rising and at present prices at least £8 to £10 per foot would have to be paid.
Mr. Tyner, M.L.C., urged upon the Minister the absolute necessity of establishing a High School at Frankston. He was not taking sides on the question of site; that was a matter for the residents to decide.
Cr. Oates agreed that the proposal outlined by Mr. Downward would suit the majority of the people, and urged the Minister to adopt it.
Cr. Wells invited the Minister to consider whether it would be more advantageous to leave the cricket ground in its present neglected condition or have it used for a High School, when it would be beautified and put to its full use as a reserve.
He understood the opposition deputation intended suggesting the resumption of 10 acres adjoining the cricket reserve with a frontage to the railway line. This despite the fact that the land had been subdivided and sold to about twenty different owners, 5 or 6 of whom had erected residences on their blocks.
To acquire that land would cost thousands of pounds, and was not to be thought of. He pointed out that the Shire Council was now unanimous in advocating the transfer of the reserve under the conditions agreed to by the Education Department.
Cr. Gray said the specific business of the deputation was to submit to the Minister the result of the recent referendum when 642 votes had been recorded in favor of the transfer of the reserve to the Education Department, and only 82 votes against. Had the vote not been taken on the ratepayers’ roll there would have been even a greater majority.
Mr. Downward’s announcement came as a pleasant surprise. If the Minister of Education was willing to accept 3 acres the majority of the people would be satisfied. But the attitude of the large majority was that if Frankston could not get a High School unless they gave ten acres they would give the ten acres.
If they had to wait till they could buy a site they could never get a school.
The people of Frankston had done all they had been asked to do to secure a school that would serve the whole Peninsula and the reserve at the same time would be available as a play ground for all.
The Minister said he would renew the offer of 3 acres to the Education Department and in view of Sir Alexander Peacock’s statement to him and to Mr. Downward, he believed the offer would be accepted – it could not be otherwise.
His (Mr. Oman’s) intention was to give the school boys free use of the remainder of the days of the week to be used for any purpose on five days of the week, and if the Council wanted the reserve for any special occasion he would be prepared to meet it.
Mr. Utber expressed satisfaction with the Minister’s reply.
Mr. Gamble: We understand that the Minister of Education will accept 3 acres?
Mr. Oman: Yes.
The second deputation, led by Mr. Joseph McComb and Mr. Milvain, was also introduced by Mr Downward.
There were about a dozen oppositionists altogether.
Mr. Milvain said they had so little park land in Frankston that they could not afford to alienate any of it.
There was many other sites more suitable for a High School, but no other satisfactory site for a reserve.
The deputation was agreeable to the building of a High School and to be taxed as ratepayers if necessary.
Regarding the referendum, their side had not made a house-to-house canvass, as the others had done. A school on the reserve would be close to the railway station, creating a great element of danger to the scholars.
Cr, Croskell (Cranbourne) said the question was of vital interest to people in the outlying districts who used the reserve for recreation purposes.
Mr. McPherson (president of the Trades Hall Council) said there were not sufficient playgrounds, and if any section desired to cut down the existing number no Government would be justified in assisting them.
Mr. T. Croskell said that as guardians of the land they were custodians for posterity.
Mr. Oman repeated his first statement. Generally speaking, he said, he stood for the policy the deputation advocated, but in this case he could, in the public interest, repeat the offer he had made to the Education Department.
He did not wish to destroy public interest in the remaining 7 acres, but surely no one could object to the school boys using the balance of the reserve. He took it that they were all interested in the welfare of their boys.
Section 167 of the Public Health Act provides that no public building shall be opened without the consent in writing of the Public Health Commission.
Ethel Mason, on Monday, was fined £20 for opening the new Chelsea theatre without permission.
Mr. A. Leslie Williams, who appeared for defendant, explained that Mrs. Mason was ill and unable to attend the court.
Mr. Menzies appeared to prosecute.
Louis Victor Freedman said he saw the theatre in question on 24th December, when he saw the foreman, who introduced him to Mrs. Mason.
He told them he could not give them even temporary permission to open.
He visited the theatre again on the 20th. Nothing practically had been done to effect the improvements ordered.
The theatre was opened on 26th December without permission.
On 29th, witness saw Gibson, senr., when he asked witness what had to be done. Witness reminded him that he had been open three nights already.
Mr. Menzies asked that a combining penalty be inflicted. Defendant was liable to a fine of £100 and £10 for each night the theatre was open.
The P.M. thought one penalty would meet the case. Defendant probably knew the requirements of the Health Commission, but decided to take the risk. It was a much more serious offence than appeared on the face of it, and a fine of £20 would be imposed, with £2/12/7 costs.
From the pages of the Frankston and Somerville Standard, 7 & 9 Mar 1923