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For the sake of transparency

Dear Beagle Editor, The following letter (in part with-holding the last paragraphs) has been widely circulated around the shire to those following the 50m pool saga for the sake of openness and transparency. Though the letter below is supposedly written by the Mayor and certainly signed by her it is readily apparent that The Mayor did not pen this letter that is directed to the Save the 50m Pool "protagonists" I leave it to the readers of the Beagle to determine who might have written it and why they chose specific speech to deliver their message. The Member for Bega along with the Councillors might also appreciate knowing what the Mayor writes to members of the community who dare to question her actions, motives and viewpoints. Feel free to read it with the Mayor's voice however it will soon become apparent she did not write this. Dear (Name withheld) Thank you for your email dated 16 November 2017. Unfortunately, there are a number of matters raised in your email which require correction or address. Additionally I have taken the opportunity to address some other related matters. Council is in close contact with both funding bodies regarding our grant applications and, as a result, is very familiar with the requirements of the grants and the ability to amend our proposal. As per my advice to you at latest meeting on 17 November 2017, the Council has adopted a position that considers the needs of our community, the professional advice provided and a proposal that meets the broadest possible needs of the community while adopting a strong business case and cost benefit result. In order to have the greatest chance of success it was essential to have a strong business case and cost benefit, and this has been achieved, a fact confirmed by Minister Andrew Constance at our meeting on Friday. Council was aware at the commencement of this project that some members of the community wanted a 50m pool. That is why Council specifically requested that the consultants, in providing their professional advice, consider both the provision of a 50m and 25m pool. Having considered that and the other demands for water space, the consultants recommended a 25m pool which is supported by other temperature specific water spaces including a learn to swim pool, leisure pool with interactive features, warm water program pool, and waterslides. To amend the grant applications to include a 50m pool will weaken the business case and reduce the cost benefit, therefore undermining the strength of our funding bid. Having been previously provided a copy of the brief and advised of the consultant’s requirements to consider both 50m and 25m options, it is disappointing that claims continue to be made by you and other members of the community to the contrary. It is also disappointing that members of the community continue to claim that Council’s staff made the decision to proceed with a 25m pool. This is not the case. The decision was made by the Council after considering all available information. Council has sort advice from the NSW Office of Sport and the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet who are both involved with the grant applications. Both have confirmed that applications are treated as commercial in confidence because to release such information would diminish the competitive value of the application placing Council at a competitive disadvantage amongst other bodies competing for the same funding. Council agrees with this position and does not intend to release details of the grant applications. I advise you that both funding bodies and other parties have raised concerns with Council that you are misrepresenting their advice to you, and Council has noted and documented these concerns. Regarding the three numbered points in your email, I provide the following response: 1. Council has and will continue to carry out due diligence regarding the construction and operating costs of not just the pool component but all components of the proposal. As discussed at our meeting this will occur at multiple stages through the design process to inform the design process and to ensure we develop an outcome that is within budget and affordable to our community. As previously advised, the budget cannot be determined until we know the outcome of possible external funding and the potential exists that we will have to further review the project’s inclusions in order to keep within the available budget and to manage ongoing operational costs. As previously stated, my fellow Councillors and I do not want to pursue an increase in rates to fund the development or operational costs of the facilities nor do we want to establish a situation that would force future councils down such a path. We have to be, and will be, financially responsible in making decisions regarding the development of the facilities. 2. As advised at the meeting, Council has and is continuing to hold discussions with operators of other aquatic and arts facilities and will be arranging to visit some facilities to gain an even better understanding of the operational issues, benefits and costs of such facilities. 3. As advised at our meeting and included in my previous correspondence Council has resolved to ‘develop a process to ensure ongoing engagement with the community throughout the design and development phases of the facility. Council will conduct further engagement in accordance with the process adopted in accordance with this resolution. I can assure you that I am listening. I am not telling you what you want to hear, rather, I am providing you the information required to answer your enquiries and to inform you of the position adopted by the Council elected to represent the community. While you clearly have a preconceived position regarding the size of the pool, I hope you will take on board the advice provided and appreciate the financial constraints under which Council operates. Council needs to consider all community views when making decisions on this significant project is disappointing that you continue to challenge the costs provided to Council by a reputable quantity surveyor on the basis of a quote you obtained based on your own concept which you have been advised has compliance issues, reduces the area of other water spaces and increases the operational costs of the facility. It is not possible to compare, as you have done, the work undertaken on behalf of Council with your own concept. As the saying goes, you are not comparing apples with apples, and therefore your statements regarding cost are misleading. In regard to your allegations concerning Council’s Director of Planning and Sustainability.... Yours sincerely The Mayor (and her mark) Name and address supplied Editors Note: This last section of the mayor's letter is **** edited out *** and NOT included as there will be ongoing discussions regarding this section with a determination of who exactly in Council penned it.


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