Popular dance group at risk

Popular dance group at risk

Founder of Ballroom Dancing night John Murphy. Photograph — Richard Polden.

A dancing club for people over 50 is at risk of closing down after council rejected the renewal of their contract as of June 2020.

For about 12 years John Murphy has hosted the ballroom night on Sundays.

Mr Murphy said dancing has been in his family since the 1950s and he said he wanted to keep the trend going.

He started the social dance nights at the Beckenham Community Centre, which were then relocated to the Mills Park Function Centre.

He was informed on January 9 that the contract wouldn’t be renewed as there were many people enquiring about booking the Sunday night for other events.

“This dance night is for people over 50 and they are a mixed group of people who have travelled from all around the place for a regular social outing at the end of each week,” he said.

“When the city hires this venue out to the public, the council collects an extra $250 a night, if I leave I personally don’t think they would care because ratepayers pay the cost of maintenance to the premises and they would still get their big fat salary.”

Mr Murphy said the city made a mistake last year by booking the venue on a Sunday night for a wedding and since then things went off the rails.

However City of Gosnells mayor David Goode said the city is not cancelling Mr Murphy’s contract.

“Mr Murphy is the only user who has refused to accept the city’s standard facility use contract,” he said.

“When the city indicated that it was not prepared to vary the contract, Mr Murphy subsequently signed the standard contract, which will allow him to use the facility until the end of June.

“It should be noted that in previous years, Mr Murphy had never indicated a problem with the standard contract.”

Mr Goode said the city encouraged Mr Murphy to consider booking the function centre at Mills Park on a Monday evening, or alternatively using the Amherst Village Community Centre in Southern River.

“The city is awaiting a response from Mr Murphy in relation to his preference for the 2020/21 financial year and we can then be in a position to offer Mr Murphy a long-term contract,” he said.

“One-off functions enable more members of the community to benefit from the facility and they attract a higher hire rate providing important revenue for the city, which is used to offset rates.”

Regular member Lloyd Young said he travels all the way from Katanning every evening to attend Mr Murphy’s popular dance nights.

“I am a 70-year-old man who travels three hours there and back to attend the Sunday dance session and it would be a pity if they closed down,” he said.

“I’ve been dancing for 25 years and I am retired, this is my only social outlet for the week, so I will have to find something else to do.”