BATEMANS BAY BUSINESS AND TOURISM CHAMBER STATEMENT FOR INCLUSION IN MACKAY PARK SUNSET COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES FOR 21 AUGUST 2017
We request the following statement prepared by the Chamber working group involved with the Perfex submission be included in the minutes of the Mackay Park Sunset Committee meeting on 21 August 2017. This statement pertains only to the Arts, Cultural and Tourism Component of Mackay Park Precinct.
The Chamber working group supported Council’s Option 1 Concept Plan in response to Minister Andrew Constance request for unity over a concept plan for a funding grant. The decision to support Option 1 was based on Councils refusal to consider the Perfex working group plan, and reassurance that the plan was a concept only subject to change.
We requested that Option 1 footprint be expanded and the plan be reconfigured to enable space for events, exhibitions, shows, allow for greater seating capacity and display workshop design changes.
Council has now introduced the Option 1 Concept Plan to the public without change or acknowledgement of our concepts, and is raising public expectation to an operation and concepts which we believe lack evidence and industry credibility.
The Sunset Committee is primarily made up of community groups as potential venue users and Council. The Committee is not skills based and does not include stakeholders such as local professional venue, event and accommodation providers. With a limited skill set it is difficult getting an understanding of what a multi-use venue is, together with management requirements and impacts on existing venues and accommodation providers. The Perfex working group formed outside the Sunset Committee used professionals to achieve the above to some degree, unfortunately Council did not allow this work to be considered by the committee, especially the business case. Otium (Recreation and Aquatic Centre consultants to Council) have not received Perfex working group information for their modelling of the Arts Centre.
The process has not involved genuine consultation:
Council discussed Otiums concept plans with community groups without giving other Sunset Committee members advice that we could also disclose the same to our members. As a result the Chamber could not survey members prior to the Wednesday midday close of submissions, whereas other groups had been privy to confidential information.
David Maclachlan was asked by the Council some months ago for his resignation due to conflict of interest when a solution was proposed to purchase the Bowling Club site by a non-profit community group he had organised. When this request was refused, Council responded by stating that they would seek legal advice and that would be final. There has since been no advice either way by Council which places him in a precarious interim position with regard to challenging Councils views.
In response to Minister Andrew Constance request, the Perfex working group was seen as an opportunity to be heard above a perception of a controlled committee adverse to input. Further marginalisation by Council was evidenced when Perfex was asked to present their proposal 3 minutes before the end of the 9th August Sunset Committee meeting. Council stated they would not support the plan and the meeting denied all committee members the opportunity to understand valuable information not yet presented. People left during the brief which only included concepts.
David Maclachlan has not had the opportunity to explain the working groups outcomes, despite sitting in multiple external meetings where Council’s purpose has been to push their preferred option rather than understand industry concepts.
Lack of inclusion was also evident to the Perfex working group when receiving changing reasons on why they should not pursue a plan to recycle the ex Bowling Club site, these include:
1. That the original builder believed the building should be condemned and that it was structurally unsound. Incorrect.
2. That the ex Bowling Club site rezoned value of $17,000,000 was essential to offset costs. According to real agents the figure is closer to one-third of this amount. The amount saved through the Perfex proposal is greater than the sites value. The proposal was rejected without explanation.
3. That a University could be built. Impractical and not investigated.
4. That Council could not afford to not utilize the site for accommodation as an economic driver. No evidence on comparative uses has been presented.
6. That a conference centre as part of a hotel complex on the northern site would provide community based multi-use event options. This is fundamentally incorrect.
Chamber is concerned about a perception of support for some of the following information presented to the public which we believe to be flawed, namely:
Suitability of a 500 seat auditorium to this Shire. This does not present comparative advantage, as other venues provide similar capacity.
The Option 1 plan does not have sufficient Exhibition, Conference, Event, Show and performing arts floor space. The Option 1 footprint is insufficient for viable use.
The business plan was a model that did not include local arts requirements and income per sqm. This work was done but not given the opportunity to be presented to the committee.
The statement that events could be held over multiple nights in response to an explanation of how touring events were dependent onvenue capacity, demonstrates a lack of understanding the industry and operations.
No mention of display workshop and shared co-working concepts or design included in Option 1.
Council expressed concern about the venue becoming a financial drain such as Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre. Option 1 exhibits the exact same issue due to reconfiguration cost of the telescopic seating. This will severely impact on cost for community use.
The notion that an accommodation group construct a conference facility/entertainment venue shows lack of industry understanding. Conference space is used to fill beds not facilitate community use and events.
Chamber requests Council demonstrate inclusive and collaborative intent.
The purpose of this statement is to protect the Chamber against perceived tacit compliance in what could become a white elephant should Option1 Concept Plan not include industry accepted concepts.