Once again a less than ordinary meeting at Eurobodalla Council today and certainly example enough of why the General Manager wants to close down the Live Streaming of the Public Forum session that once again saw speaker after speaker step up and voice their concerns directly to the Councillors in a public meeting.
The morning began with the half hour Public Access session that is neither broadcast or recorded which is a shame as it is often insightful of the wider range of issues around the shire that go unmentioned and rarely appear in Council agendas. Today Mr Curly Bernard reminded Councillors that the bar at Narooma was a dangerous place to be and that they should do something about it advising them that he had already presented on two previous occasions clearly stating that there was subsidence of the rock wall and that the bar path had fallen into disrepair. The only question from Councillors on this was the question of whether he had contacted the RMS who are the agency in charge of the rock wall. Mr Bernard rightly answered that he had advised Council and it wasn't his responsibility to advise the RMS. After the presentation he told the Beagle "I have warned them before but they keep saying it isn't their responsibility". "Isn't this an community asset?" "Have they told the RMS they are hearing concerns from members of the community?" The second issue raised by Mr Bernard asked the recurring question about sea level rise and the impact on fresh water capture in places like the Tuross River with just a few hundred meters between the extent of high tide and the proposed pumping point for the new dam. There were no questions asked. After a quick break the meeting proper began and it was a doozy that saw democracy at work. First came a well structured presentation by Dr Sue Mackenzie questioning the Council proposal to sell the Batemans Bay Community Centre The Mackay Park venture is not a stand-alone project, which many are unaware of. It was stated by Council staff recently in at least two public meetings, that the Community Centre was to be ‘demolished’, but no further plans were revealed. This has since been denied by more senior staff and, in response to a question on notice by Councillor Mayne, it now states: “Council has not made a decision to sell the existing BBCC. It has been identified that it could possibly be sold or leased, to offset construction and/or ongoing operational costs associated with the proposed Aquatics, Arts and Leisure Centre…. The business case prepared by Otium and adopted by Council, is based upon funds currently used to operate the BBCC and VIC, being redirected to meet operating costs of the Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre and to calculate the net operational cost to Council and therefore the community of that facility… as described in the Notice of Motion.” What became more than evident today is that Council does NOT have a business plan. This week we also learnt that Council had provided the Otium Business Case with their unsuccessful grant application to the NSW Department of Sport for $26m funding for the Mackay Park project. Whilst not confirmed it is now most likely that the only business case they provided to the Federal Government was the same package that should result in the Federal Government also announcing a failure due to the Council being unable to prove projected incomes, expenditures and the financial sustainability of the facility without a need to seek a rate increase. Next came three presentations speaking against the General Managers Draft Code of Meeting Practice Speakers on this issue were Lei Parker, Dr Owen Cartledge and Trish Hellier The final presentation by Peter Bernard was robust to say the least with the Mayor offering " Mr Bernard, right now you are giving me a classic example of why I wouldn't want to see this type of behaviour out to the public". To hear the presentation in full I recommend watching it in the upcoming archives.