UNEXPECTED DRAMA AT BKA'S NEW SCHOOL IN SYDNEY

Brahma Kumaris Australia's $6,000,000 corporate headquarters and religious school at Fivedock, in Sydney's inner west. Given an attractive revamped facade, the street profile includes the offices behind the pole.

LOCAL COUNCIL FINES BKA FOR DODGY COMPLIANCE, TWICE: WHAT'S HAPPENING?

Hello and welcome again.

      Well friends, at the risk of boring you with internal BK stuff, when posting creative recipes is at least as interesting, below is an unanswered letter I wrote to our friends on the Brahma Kumaris Australia board, which I thought to share online with you the perusing faithful. I had earlier written to BKA asking for clarity on BKA occupancy of Inner Space Five Dock, given that the local council had just given the BKs a C  for Compliance, according to my conversation with council. The board told me that they were unaware of such a thing... So I wrote the letter below to the  board, by way of putting my cards on the table. I haven't had a response, so I am sharing it with you as interested parties...

Dear friends on the BKA board,

Greetings. OK so this is the story. At the Rakhshabandan celebration on a recent Saturday evening, I was sitting in the upstairs room at BKA Inner space Fivedock, along with a hundred and sixty or so other BKs. Another forty or so BKs were in the upstairs dining hall and more here and there: so I was there along with some two hundred BKs. 

  Later, as I was having a cuppa, I was recalling the BKs thirty years in the heritage Ashfield  building  'Indraprasth’, and my many suggestions that BKA might like to purchase a safer more serviceable property, given we used to seat a hundred BKs in a room that had  council approval for twelve! The room was on the second storey, accessible only by a narrow attic stair, some of you may remember?  Of course the BK culture then, as now, was not to talk to people 'outside' about such concerns. So none of us did. But then around 2000 the BKA chair( Charlie Hogg) and I did look at a number of alternate premises: the iconic old Leichhardt Post Office being one of them, one which I favoured: but management had a preference for something more residential at the time.

 So that 'Rakhi' night I was concerned that here at Fivedock there might be a repeat of the situation we had at Ashfield, because the number of people upstairs in BKA Fivedock, seemed to me far too many for safety. I have some experience of  council/insurance requirements from my reconstruction work at Wilton and elsewhere, and I was rather concerned for  200 people there at 'Rakhi', which included kids and old folk, and in an emergency...well...

 So next morning I phoned BKA and mentioned my worries. I was assured that all was well, and the building had the approval of all necessary parties for such gatherings. Nonetheless, recalling the Ashfield situation, I called the local council. They asked me to put it in writing. So I did. I called council a week later to to see if my concerns had any validity. Council said yes they had. Council said that they had not authorised that number people to be in the building, and that BKA were about to  be fined for another, different violation of a council order. 

 So then I downloaded the Development Application, DA 2014/0543, for the BK premeses,181 First Avenue, Five Dock. I noticed that the number of people authorised to be in the building on a Saturday night was 35. But there were over 200 on the Saturday night when I was there… and this has been the number attending quite regularly, I am told.

 So there you are dear friends. As always I am happy to meet and discuss any matters of mutual concern.

Robin

 

FURTHERMORE:

For the interest of site visitors the BKA Development Application says this, in part: 

 DA 2014/0543

 Intensity of Use

 Numbers of staff and attendees to meditation classes arelimited by conditions of consent. Therefore, it is considered that the use will be sufficiently managed to ensure there are no issues raised with regard to intensity of the use of the site

 Whilst it is contended by the applicant(BKA) that it is not anticipated that patronage will increase above that recorded at the Ashfield and Leichardt sites, it is apparent that there is both the capacity to increase patronage of the sessions and increase the number of the sessions..

 In this regard the applicant(BKA) has agreed to include conditions of consent that confirm the appropriate limitation on the use of the site including business operating hours, number of staff, and number of attendees at mediation classes. 

JULY 2015 DA 2014/0543 p.16.

  General Business Hours of Operation: 9.00am to 5.00pm, seven (7) days per week.

Attendees at Classes (including instructors and any other staff) shall be restricted :

Monday to Saturday Classes - Maximum of 35 people

 Sunday Classes - Maximum of 80 people

 The class times are restricted as follows:-

Monday to Saturday - 6.30am to 8.30pm

 Sunday - 7.00am to 8.00pm

  Any increase in the above class numbers shall be subject to the further written consent of Council.

  Please Note: Any breaches of your development consent conditions may result in enforcement action being commenced by Council. This can include fines and/or legal proceedings. Please ensure conditions are fully complied with at all times.

  Now I fully appreciate that finding premises in  Sydney for  a ‘Godly Home’ that fulfils all the requirements of both BKA and civil authority regarding location, parking, office space, capacity, transport, safety etc is daunting. But  for BKA  to spend $6 million dollars on a building which does not appear to meet its basic requirements, and restricts attendance to 35 people ( including staff) for classes and widely advertised public programs  on every day of the week except Sunday when it's 80, does not seem sensible, and donors and BK students might question whether the purchase of the building was in anyone’s best interest.Though the building does provide a new home for the BKA publishing arm Eternity Ink, though it had a good one previously in neighbouring Leichardt, but then again product storage led to the loss of six internal car parking spaces at Fivedock...

   I understand that, although BKA is not in a position to appeal the council fine, BKA intends to appeal the council ruling on capacity. One could observe that council might give such an appeal a more sympathetic hearing if it had been made prior to BKA ignoring both council regulations and the unequivocal warnings given by council about disregarding them.

  Nonetheless, we wish BKA every success in their approach, and keenly await developments in the Drama, as I am sure do many among the two hundred, and the supportive public…Smile

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Is that on Netflix?

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