Capel residents angered by name change idea

Ailish DelaneyBunbury Herald
Capel Shire president Michael Southwell.
Camera IconCapel Shire president Michael Southwell. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

A contentious move by Capel shire president Michael Southwell to potentially change the council’s name was debated at last week’s meeting where it was decided to have a report prepared for next month detailing what would be required.

Councillor Kieran Noonan proposed an alternative to Cr Southwell’s original motion in the hopes that more clarification of the council’s intentions would leave less room for potential misunderstandings by the community.

The alternative broke down what would be involved in the name change and feedback process and included information about alternate name choices, such as Coolingup or a dual name.

After a heated debate, councillors voted 4-1 for a report to be prepared to investigate what would be involved in a potential name change and seek feedback from the community on their ideas and suggestions to find where they stood on the matter through the community survey.

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Cr Southwell said there was nothing controversial about looking at the name and thinking if it should be changed or not.

It’s simply an effort, we go out to the public and ask if there is a better name.

Cr Southwell

“If not we keep the name ‘Shire of Capel’.”

His reasoning behind the proposed name change was the Capel townsite was no longer the major population and centre of the Shire and a different name could better reflect the diversity and location of the area.

“Western Australia is not called the State of Perth,” he said.

Cr Sebastian Schiano said he could not ignore the community commentary, input and objections that were sent to councillors over previous days.

“I received 16 emails in the course of one 45-minute meeting,” he said. “I don’t think that can be ignored.

The message from the community has been very clear ... there’s no appetite for a name change.

Cr Schiano

Cr Schiano said he associated the name Geographe — which Cr Southwell had proposed as an alternative in the original motion — with Busselton and said the community’s feelings were clear and the matter should not be dwelt on further, prompting claps from the public gallery.

Cr Southwell said it would only be an extra question on the community survey to find out people’s opinions and if the council found out most people liked the name and wanted to keep it then they would, which prompted a muttering of “waste of time” from the gallery.

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