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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

It isn't Love All between Eurobodalla Tennis and Council regarding fee hikes

Local tennis teams, clubs and players are jumping the net and taking the proposed increases in Court Hire costs by the scruff of the neck with a "Please explain" Below are two recent submissions that will be read and considered by the Councillors when the Draft 2017-2018 Fees and Charges report, as drafted by the Council staff, comes before them for their stamp of approval. Operational Plan 2017‐2018 Draft 2017 2018 Fees and Charges

re: Proposed changes to Tennis Court Usage Fees

Dear Councillors,

We invite you to provide us with your support in our opposition to the almost 100% increase in Tennis Court Hire Fees. An increase which will affect all members of the shirewide tennis community.

Some of you have lived in the Eurobodalla Shire for most or all of your lives, and realise how important the local sporting clubs are to the community. They have provided a social and |creative focus for generations.

They were largely built by volunteers, and in themselves they are their own community support system. We recognise the fact that costs of managing community infrastructure continues to rise year by year, but we do not understand why these current fee increases apply only to tennis clubs?

To impose a blanket fee increase on shire tennis court use without providing the local tennis members with the evidence of need for this increase, means we are unable to participate in any meaningful discussion which could result in some sort of compromise to satisfy all parties.

1.Currently the club organisers/volunteers sign up new members, encourage participation, and run events to meet nearly all the court running costs and also pay court insurance with Tennis NSW. If the clubs cease to function, this area of management along with day to day tennis complex responsibility, will be another task for the Eurobodalla Shire Council to take on ‐ or forget about.

2.There is a strong possibility that the shire operated tennis club volunteers might decide they will no longer manage the clubs/complexes, or actively pursue memberships.

3.This means there will be no volunteers for day to day maintenance or tennis complex oversight.

4.Should the existing club organisation cease, the current and future livelihood of coaches would suffer as junior members drift away. This economic downside will then impact the whole community.

5.Without volunteers or the involvement of members and coaches, these centres of activity will gradually decline then cease to exist because of lack of interest, participation and expertise.

As they exist now the tennis courts are important cogs in all developed and growing communities, they also play an essential role by offering large numbers of tourists a wider range of recreational opportunities.

There has been a rather unfortunate history of some ESC bureaucrats- with poor effect, taking on and taking over some aspects of our community, while ignoring or disregarding the valued input of the residents ‘on the ground’. I suggest that the tennis players among the decision makers come to a meeting with the clubs to try and reach a compromise.

To encourage more physical and social activity among the permanent residents, the council should support cheap recreation access for all residents, and provide effective management for all its sporting clubs.

Volunteers are free, available and willing to manage membership and maintenance making the clubs cheap to run. These volunteers should be fostered and supported for the work they constantly undertake for the residents, council, and tourists. These tennis clubs make this shire a better place to live.

We ask for your support to keep the cost of playing tennis in our Shire to be both reasonable and fair.

Yours sincerely

Helen Wilson

Member of Tuross and Moruya Clubs, Eurobodalla District Tennis Association, and past Secretary for the Thursday mid‐week competition. and from the 140 Eurobodalla District Tennis Association Women’s midweek tennis members

Operational Plan 2017‐2018 Draft 2017‐2018 Fees and Charges

re: Proposed changes to Tennis Court Usage Fees ‐ Submission

We make this submission to Eurobodalla Shire Council on behalf of the approximately 140 EDTA Women’s mid‐week tennis members.

The mid week women’s competition has been operating in the Eurobodalla for about 50 years. Although we could continue this event without players being club registered, a current requirement for participation is for each player to be a member of a NSW Tennis affiliated tennis club.

Under our current rules and with the council fee proposal to almost double existing court hire fees, too much of a financial burden would be put onto each participating player. This competition currently operates as an affordable, friendly, healthy and co‐operative shire‐wide activity.

Currently there are approximately 120 women per week taking part in this structured inter club, inter town EDTA sponsored event. All clubs between Batemans Bay and Narooma usually are able to enter at least one team.

This tennis competition promotes friendships and interest in the Shire as a whole. It creates an opportunity for groups from the various towns to participate in conversation and social activity with their neighbours and their neighbouring towns.

Fees and charges: Taking into consideration the existing fees and seasonal charges for regular participants and competition players at other shire stadia and sporting grounds, it would be reasonable to expect our regular tennis competition fees to council would be in the same “ball park”.

Regular basketballers each pay about $2.30 per game, and those regular over 17 years competitors on shire sporting fields pay $37 per season. We would anticipate that a similar amount tennis fee per season from members of Shire owned clubs would be easiest managed. It would be possible for each club member to pay their comp ‘season’ fee to their club who could forward it to council with a list of player names.

It should be noted that in most cases competitions take place outside peak tourism times, when courts become available for visitors and non‐member casual hire.

To take part in this usual home/away event already requires a substantial cost to the players i.e. various fees for clubs, courts, event management and fuel for travel. Any significant cost increase could result in lowering the player numbers, and as a consequence the number of court venues required for this competition could be cut back to perhaps the only 2 non shire operated court complexes. It also would deny many people the opportunity to engage in this healthy, social activity.

We invite the following

i.We invite the Shire council to provide the evidence showing why the costs of management/court hire need to be increased by the previously suggested amount?

ii.We invite the Shire council to provide a response which explains how the following three points which apply to the pricing policy philosophy, will apply to the shire managed tennis clubs?

iii.We invite the Shire council to read the rest of our submission which emphasises the role of sport and organised activity in our community.

From the Eurobodalla Shire Council Pricing Policy Summary

  • Explore cost recovery opportunity by recognising people’s ability to pay…..

Before being able to explore and submit an alternative plan to meet any perceived increase in running and maintenance costs of the Shire managed courts, it is essential that the club management and members should have all information which shows

  • annual cost of upkeep/maintenance to Council for each of the club tennis courts, not taking into account any successful Grants funding?

  • annual income received by Council for each group of club tennis courts?

  • a breakdown of the numbers playing in all the clubs in each of the various membership categories, eg Juniors, Seniors, Pensioners etc This would provide some insight and clarity into the ability of any group of people to pay an additional fee

  • Ensure value for money by providing effective and efficient service

  • At the moment the clubs have not been given any indication or information of how the council will manage so many courts either efficiently or effectively. The cost to members and hirers of courts under these as yet unstated “efficiencies” would probably be more than they are prepared to pay!

  • Recognise how pricing encourages or discourages consumer use and behaviours

Without a doubt, any marked increase in court hire charges will greatly affect the use of these

courts by quite a few of our older retired, pensioner and more junior members.

An increase in fees, and the inability for council to alone manage entry/exit/timing efficiently

and effectively ‐ without any input or the cooperation from local club members, will

guarantee that less money is collected from casual court hire than ever before. People love to

try and beat a flawed system.

Community Benefits

Our local Eurobodalla sporting clubs were largely built and maintained over the years by many community volunteers. The ability of groups of individuals to organise themselves, raise funds, and manage their own sports organisations, demonstrates the resourcefulness of many small town groups and clubs. Working and cooperating as a team they were/are committed to improving the opportunity for their families to have something more, and to become involved in the much needed socialising and recreational activity that these clubs provide. It has always been an essential part of country life where “other things to do” and city

attractions are not available, and where the incomes for most country populations are much lower than in the city.

Participation in sport and active recreation has many individual and community benefits. There is not one sector of any community who cannot benefit from any such activities which alone provide

 economic benefits of sports to a region in terms of tourism, and special events

 reduction of anti‐social behaviour, increasing community safety

 increased pride and status within a community

 improved health and well‐being of the community as a whole

 increased social interaction and support

 positive self – esteem and confidence

 achievement and leadership

 improved individual physical and mental health

Community Health

Currently there are in the Shire probably about 30 people over 80years of age who play tennison a regular basis. Although they might just be lucky in the genes they inherited, there would be no doubt they have been active in a sport most of their life. They stay alive because of the regular physical and mental stimulus they get from participating. They are keeping out of hospital, and put no burden on the Local Health providers. They commune and interact with a variety of other generations, who share a common interest. It is powerful to observe, and if costs to play tennis prevented their participation it would be criminal.

This takes the pressure off the Health Carers!

From the Australian Government Institute of Health and Welfare website:

“Low levels of Physical activity are a major risk factor for ill health and mortality from all causes. People who do not have sufficient physical activity have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Osteoporosis. Being physically active improves mental and musculoskeletal health and reduces other risk factors such as overweight and

obesity, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.”

The regulators have been out to improve the community health in many ways, mostly under pressure from lobby groups, community pressure and the risk of legal action. The four keystones to affecting the health of our communities are Tobacco Smoking, Excessive AlcoholConsumption, Wrong diet (lacking fruit & Vegetables), and Insufficient physical activity.

Legislation and policing has largely dealt with the first two, and the medical profession are trying to “encourage” individuals, social groups, schools, state and local governments to get on with supporting the other two. In 2014 / 2015,1 in 2 Australian adults were not sufficiently active, and although it comes down to lifestyle choices, the local councils have an obligation to support their community members who choose to play a sport on any council managed playing surface.

In Australia 2008, Access Economics estimated at the time that the total obesity cost to the country was $58billion, comprising $50billion in lost wellbeing and $8billion in financial costs (such as productivity costs, health system and carer costs). All parts of Australia were surveyed, and in general it was the rural areas which had the worst outcomes.

The Eurobodalla Shire Council website and Healthy Communities states that

“Eurobodalla Shire Council is committed to supporting a healthy and active community. We run a range of programs to encourage and enable a healthy lifestyle…. “

We challenge the Eurobodalla Shire Council to consider the above commitment and as a priority support completely the wellbeing of their community. Council should make all sporting facilities as cheap as possible for would be participants. Council should also resist the opportunity to take more from any group of people who in every way demonstrate the ability to provide leadership, support their community, and keep

themselves fit enough to participate in many other community activities.

It takes the pressure off the Health Carers!

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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