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Open letter to the Australian Government's Regional Growth Fund grant assessors

To whom it may concern,

I am writing in regards to the application by Eurobodalla Shire Council for funding of $25 million from the Australian Government's Regional Growth Fund for the Mackay Park Aquatic Arts Centre in Batemans Bay. I refer to a letter dated the 14th November 2018 from Donna Wieland.

"The Eurobodalla Shire Council submitted a thorough Initial Application for funding that demonstrated community consultation was undertaken for the project and in August 2017 Council announced Mackay Park as the preferred project location. The Initial Application included letters of support from local community groups and members of the public to demonstrate that there is substantial community support for the project at Mackay Park. The project is also strongly supported by the NSW Government, who are providing a considerable proportion of funding towards the project."

As a member of the Batemans Bay community I was shocked and dismayed to read that according to Eurobodalla Council they "demonstrated community consultation"...and..."included letters of support from local community groups and members of the public to demonstrate that there is substantial community support for the project."

For the sake of transparency Eurobodalla Shire Council did NOT consult pool stakeholders and they do NOT have substantial community support. The Batemans Bay Swimming Club originally endorsed the Mackay Park Aquatic Arts Project but withdrew their support when they discovered that the only 50 metre pool in Batemans Bay was being removed and replaced with a 25 metre pool. Eurobodalla Council was deceptive in its dealings with the swimming club, schools and surf life saving clubs because when requesting endorsement by letter, Council did not include a copy of the project plan for stakeholders to see. Stakeholders and the wider community were not aware that the 50m pool was being replaced by a 25 metre pool because Council made that decision behind closed doors without public scrutiny.

Who Council's letters of support are from is a mystery. You can see from the list below the widespread lack of support in the community. Eurobodalla Council was not transparent in its dealings with the community and did not follow due process. Council did not even follow their own Community Engagement Framework - A project’s level of impact relates to how significantly a proposal or action will affect community stakeholders. Please see page 11

A small group of people have been lobbying Council and the Member for Bega Andrew Constance since the end of August 2017. We have held public meetings, attended/presented at Council meetings, talked with Councillors, talked with Council staff, held Pack the Pool and Pack the Gallery, talked with stakeholders and the wider community, written letters to the Editor, had radio interviews etc to persuade Council to follow due process, consult the community and include a 50 metre pool in the Mackay Park Aquatic Arts Centre so the facility will promote social cohesion, emotional/health benefits of the whole community.

We are not trying to stop the project but draw your attention to the fact that you have been mislead by Eurobodalla Council. A project costing $51 million without the support of the whole community appears to be an unsustainable use of taxpayer's money.

We look forward to hearing from you.

With Regards,

Maureen Searson Coral Anderson Peter Coggan

Fight for Batemans Bays 50m Pool

#Opinion #Council #LocalStateFederal #latest #BatemansBay

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