Federal Government ignore community concerns over lack of consultation and provision of poor busines
The Federal Government have all but stated that the $25m grant from the Regional Growth Fund is assured. The Beagle has been advised that there is quiet jubilation already coming from the corridors of Council. Despite considerable concerns around the business case that claims the community can afford to maintain such a facility and that the letters of of support solicited from the community indicated wide spread support for the aquatic centre the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities say that they have no interest in such matters and that any concerns should be raised with Council. In a letter received from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities today addressed to Maureen Searson, spokesperson for the Fight for Batemans Bays 50m Pool group it states: Good afternoon Maureen
Thanks for your email regarding the Eurobodalla Shire Council project under the Regional Growth Fund for the Construction of Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Precinct, Mackay Park, Batemans Bay, NSW.
As previously stated in the letter to Mr X, it was demonstrated in the Initial Application from Eurobodalla Shire Council that this project has extensive support from the community. I note that a letter of support was not provided by the Batemans Bay Swimming Club with the Initial Application.
Whether the proposed pool as part of the project is a 25 metre or 50 metre pool is a matter for the Eurobodalla Shire Council to determine and you should pursue your concerns you have raised here with the Council.
Regional Growth Fund Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities While the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities consider that "it was demonstrated in the Initial Application from Eurobodalla Shire Council that this project has extensive support from the community" they would not have been made privvy to the letter of solicitation from Eurobodalla Council that encouraged such support. It is important to remember that at the time of encouraging support - the date of the letter is August 16th 2017.
Above: The letter soliciting community support that has NO mention of the loss of the 50m pool.
In all there were 25 letters of support. Mostly cut and paste clones of the solicitation letter. You can read all of them HERE
Above: one of the many redacted letters of support solicited by Eurobodalla Council prior to the announcement that the Aquatic centre would be on the site of the current 50m pool and that there would be NO 50m pool in the new centre. On that date, August 16th, 2017, the community understood that the Batemans Bay Bowling Club had been bought by Council to be utilised as a Gateway precinct according to the then Mayor Lindsay Brown on April 29th, 2016 in his proclamation: “Being able to purchase this important site in our largest town is a great outcome for our community and I am excited about the opportunities it opens up for Batemans Bay and Eurobodalla. We now have a large and strategically significant precinct which includes the club, swimming pool and Mackay Park sporting fields located in a unique town centre site.“ Council will seek expressions of interest with a view to forming a partnership to prepare a standout masterplan and redevelopment that will boost the economy and could provide the much needed upgrade to the swimming pool. Some of the opportunities for the site could include a new aquatic centre, an arts cultural cinema building, conference and event space, tourism accommodation, restaurant and cafes, seniors’ living and the integration of existing sporting fields into the future development of the precinct. The expression of interest will determine if there is private sector interest in partnering with Council,” said Clr Brown. On August 29th 2017, twelve days after the solicitation letter was emailed across the shire Council turned its back on any such development at the Batemans Bay Bowling Club site and announced and approved a new concept, entirely on the Southern section and devoid of a 50m pool. The community were horrified and the letters of endorsement soon became letters of retraction. Council having considered a report that included a draft business case, Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy and concept plans options resolved to proceed with option 1 for the purpose of seeking grant funding. THIS IS IMPORTANT..... The Eurobodalla Shire Council – Aquatic and Arts/ Cultural Precinct Business Case states on page 39 Readers should be aware that the preparation of this report may have necessitated projections of the future that are inherently uncertain and that our opinion is based on the underlying representations, assumptions and projections detailed in this ‘point in time’ report. There will be differences between projected and actual results, because events and circumstances frequently do not occur as expected and those differences may be material. We do not express an opinion as to whether actual results will approximate projected results, nor can we confirm, underwrite or guarantee the achievability of the projections as it is not possible to substantiate assumptions which are based on future events. Neither Otium Planning Group, nor any member or employee of Otium Planning Group, nor any subconsultants engaged in the preparation of this report assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the content of this report. Otium also made a very clear statement in their Aquatic and Arts/ Cultural Precinct Business Case (page 38). It should be noted that the financial model does not incorporate sensitivity analysis or depreciation at this stage. This will be done after the base case assumptions and preferred design option have been approved by Council. Further, once the preferred design option and financial modelling has been approved and finalised, an assessment of the economic impact of the facility SHOULD be undertaken by Council to support any applications for external funding. So the question now has to be asked - exactly what business case did Council give to the Regional Growth Fund section of the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities and did that business plan look at the affordability of the project from the perspective of ratepayers to ensure they would not be burdened. Watch this space because if the Federal Government is willing to burden a community with a Trojan Horse they can ill afford that is based around much controversy then the community needs to be kept informed and possibly alarmed as well. A copy of the Council's Business Plan will be requested under GIPA and published when made available.