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Editorial Feb 15th 2019


Welcome to this week’s editorial . Council have spent $7 million dollars on the Mackay Park project and have ZERO to show for it. In March 2018 we saw Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Bega MP Andrew Constance announce a $26m gift to Batemans Bay for the Mackay Park leisure and performance centre, split $18 million for the pool and $8 million with the funding coming from the NSW Government’s $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund. Ms Berejiklian said the new aquatic facility would house four new pools, including an indoor heated 25-metre pool, an indoor warm-water program pool, a free-form indoor leisure pool with interactive water features, a heated indoor learn to swim pool, as well as a gym, wellness area, water slides and amenities. She also said the cultural facility, on the same site, will include a purpose-built exhibition and performance centre, as well as workshop and storage space for the region’s 18 art, dance and theatre groups. “The many arts and theatre groups in the region will now have a new and impressive home for the 800 events they host between them every year, including regional arts festivals and prizes.” The comments were made around a concept plan that had been costed at $46 million to build. The plan had been adopted by Councillors and was now to be given to architects to bring to fruition. In the meantime the Council began to seek an additional grant from the Federal Government to make up the difference. Now the architects are back with three concept plans that look nothing like the first that they were given. They based their design around invitation only focus groups and “listened” however the concept plans they have presented have come as a shock to those groups as they strongly believe that there is no evidence at all that they were listened to. So now we are back to the drawing board once more awaiting a “survey” of wider community views about the three concepts so that a fourth concept plan can be drawn up. In a nutshell we have nothing. For our $7 million dollars except for a vacant block of land (being the old Bowling Club site) which has a $2m loan attracting interest repayments. That land was bought under delegated authority given to the General Manager by the Councillors. When Councillors are elected they have ALL the authority and they then delegate the authority to do day to day things in Council to the General Manager and her staff. The staff call these delegations Operational Matters. The staff don’t bother the councillors with these menial matters. But what happens when announcements such as a new TAFE annex is to be built in Batemans Bay on a site yet to be determined, or Council staff close the emergency helipad at Batemans Bay or they decide to commission an aquatic strategy that kisses goodbye to the 50m pool in Batemans Bay with NO consultation. That is all Operational and the Councillors are kept out of the loop, only find out the details staff want to release, when everyone else does. Yes, Councillors are briefed by staff. Very briefly, and also advised from the perspective of staff. Councillors were told selling a public reserve in Pretty Point was a good thing and without even looking at the site they all agreed. Because they trusted staff. The briefings are the way the Councillors can “absorb” the agenda without reading reports. Is it because they have blind faith in staff or is it because they are bone lazy and are content to have given the staff full delegation. The councillors are well and truly in the dark on so many matters that they may as well not be there at all. We now have staff advising there will be reduced facilities at Mackay Park, staff tell us they will now have water polo, staff tell us they are demolishing the Batemans Bay Community centre, staff building splashpools in Narooma, staff having backroom conversations to secure a TAFE annex in Batemans Bay and staff spending ratepayer funds on legal actions to block the community from accessing grant applications in regards to the Mackay Park. This week however Councillors Pollock, McGinlay, Constable and Mayne showed they were not rubber stamps and challenged the Mayor and staff. Maybe a new day is dawning. Now all that is needed is one other. Nathan and Tait belong to the Mayor. So that leaves Thomson or Brown. Thomson contributes nothing during Council meetings. Maybe Lindsay Brown might save the day and turn the tide. The next Mayoral election is only eighteen months away. Until next Lei


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