Darwin Council secretly awards Brett Dixon’s company multi-million dollar contract for velodrome project that has ‘no future’

by | Apr 21, 2022 | News | 0 comments

EXCLUSIVE: Darwin City Council has secretly awarded a contract worth potentially millions of dollars to upgrade the unwanted velodrome at Bagot Park to Jaytex Constructions – the company behind the infamous $12 million Turf Club grandstand – whose director was found to have engaged in “corrupt conduct” by the ICAC, the NT Independent can reveal.

Council did not provide details of the contract to Jaytex, former Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon’s company, anywhere on its website or in public announcements more than two weeks after works commenced, with the total cost also not being officially disclosed.

The project is also inexplicably moving ahead before the Bagot Park masterplan is finalised and will include track refurbishments, installation of lights and construction of a “spectator viewing area”.

The contract was awarded despite two local cycling clubs telling council they “do not see a future for cycling in Bagot Park”.

Council listed the velodrome upgrades project on its “procurement transparency” webpage as a “significant” project, but did not state that the contract was awarded to Jaytex some time before April 4 – when works commenced – despite listing dozens of other companies that received contracts for small, medium, large and significant projects over the last three years.

The draft Bagot Park masterplan “consultation report stage one” was provided to council at their general meeting on April 12 – eight days after works commenced on the velodrome and following the contract being awarded to Jaytex.

According to the report’s “feedback summary”, both the Darwin Cycling Club and AusCycling NT told the company preparing the masterplan that they felt the proposed upgrades to the velodrome were “not ideal” and “not fit for purpose”.

“Velodrome upgrades in their current form aren’t fit for purpose because the track would not meet Australian cycling standards,” the report stated.

“AusCycling NT said they would still take the upgrades as it is better than nothing but they are not ideal.

“Darwin Cycling Club and AusCycling NT do not see a future for cycling in Bagot Park and are exploring other options.”

Council representatives did not respond to the NT Independent’s questions after being given more than 24 hours, including why the contract has not been publicly announced and why millions would be spent on a facility that could be relocated at a later date.

In a Facebook post, shared by Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis on Tuesday, the City of Darwin announced the works had started on April 4, part of a jointly funded project by the City of Darwin and the NT Government.

The public notice highlighted specific works to be done including removing trees, but did not provide the cost, nor did it mention Jaytex as the contractor.

Massive $10.5 million grant previously awarded for velodrome upgrades

The velodrome controversy came to a head in August 2020, when Bagot Park stakeholders accused the previous council of failing to properly consult over redevelopment plans at the park.

The velodrome upgrade project had originally started as a $1.5 million grant from the NT Government around 2015, but was later upped to a massive $10.5 million for a complete redevelopment of the facility after lobbying by Cycling NT.

However, after no movement on the project for years, the NT Government wrote to council in June 2020 seeking $8 million be returned.

It remains unclear if that money was in fact returned, but a figure of $2.5 million was widely discussed as being available in late 2020.

Former Darwin Council CEO Scott Waters told the NT Independent in August 2020 that it would be more appropriate to move the velodrome to Marrara, but also suggested council might spend $2.5 million on upgrades to the existing facility.

He also pledged to “work with the community” to determine the best options. That is understood to have included the first stage of the community engagement masterplan report provided to council last week.

Mr Waters resigned from council last December with his final day on February 20.

Interim CEO Simone Saunders is married to the Darwin Turf Club’s former chief financial officer Barry Lloyd. She did not respond to questions, including who made the decision to award the contract to Jaytex and why it wasn’t publicly disclosed.

Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis also did not respond to questions.

Mr Dixon did not respond to questions about the velodrome project. He is currently pursuing legal challenges to have the ICAC findings that he engaged in “corrupt conduct” in relation to the publicly-funded Turf Club grandstand project overturned.

 

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