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Let's Upgrade your 50m pool to a 25m - you want fries with that?

When Council adopted the new Eurobodalla Shire Aquatic Strategy it commissioned Otium to write what it was endorsing was the grand plan to rid Batemans Bay of its Olympic pool without any consultation what so ever. The objectives of the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy as set out in Council’s brief was to:  Develop an Aquatic Strategy for the Eurobodalla which will better inform the potential development of the Batemans Bay Mackay Park Precinct (primarily an update of the previous 2005 Swimming Pools Strategic Review) What they admit to here is that there was a 2005 Swimming Pools Strategic Review : 2005 – Swimming Pools Strategic Review In the preparation of a strategic review of swimming pools in Eurobodalla in 2005, a wide range of community consultations were undertaken, including a call for public submissions, surveys of clubs and schools, key stakeholder interviews (including with pool managers, swimming clubs, aquatic program providers, physiotherapists and representatives of schools and sports clubs), and a survey of local youth. Feedback received in relation to the Batemans Bay pool included:  Need for a year-round facility, to ensure continuity of learn to swim and competitive swim training  Need more water space to meet user demand at peak times and growth in demand for low impact exercise opportunities (such as swimming, warm water therapy)  Pool is dated and in urgent need of upgrading and new facilities (25m indoor pool, hydrotherapy pool, freeform recreation pool, gym facilities, new change/kiosk/crèche)  Sports tourism – year round pool would facilitate training camps for elite athletes and regional scale events. That review also included a diagram of where Council might like to move forward to; HANGING ROCK.

This explains how Council then turned its focus to providing a new aquatic centre at Hanging Rock And what was the recommendation of a possible layout in 2005?

From the 2005 Aquatic Strategy So how did Council come so far as to remove the 50m pool from the community with no consultation whatsoever revealing the town's loss of its 50m pool in a Mayoral Minute on March 27th 2018 to Not include a 50m pool in the proposed centre or retain the existing 50m pool.?

In September 2016 in the lead up to the last Local Government election Councillor and Community Action Alliance candidate Liz Innes told the Bay Post she would move to sell the Batemans Bay Beach Resort to help fund an all-year-round heated pool for Batemans Bay. The Bay Post report said:

“The people of Batemans Bay have waited way too long for a modern heated pool,” she said on Facebook. “A year-round swimming facility will allow many groups to continue their favourite sport in winter.

“Swim clubs, school learn to swim programs and hydrotherapy classes will all be accommodated.”

“Council’s past response to those community groups raising funds for an upgraded pool has been unsympathetic.

“Consultants’ cost estimates have been too high because their proposals have been over the top. We can’t afford a comprehensive leisure centre but, with some rearrangement of assets, I believe we can afford a new heated pool.” “Funds could come from the sale of the Batemans Bay Beach Resort. I believe that the council no longer needs to own this four star caravan park. Its upgrading is now completed. “We do not know yet the costing of a new pool or aquatic centre. “The reason it is a must is that firstly it has cost the shire’s ratepayers millions. Secondly, the council should not be in direct competition with its ratepayers in business." Little did the community realise that behind the doors and in the corridors of Council they had already decided that the town's 50m pool would go as they set about providing briefs Council has also revealed that "a preliminary expression of interest process to develop the Batemans Bay Bowling site was undertaken in late 2016 and early 2017, in response to which four preliminary expressions of interest were received, demonstrating to them that there was interest from the development community in the site." So does this mean that Lindsay Brown, Rob Pollock and Liz Innes have known about this all along. Innes and Brown were there as part of the secret decision to buy the Bowling Club (Pollock was absent) . They knew of the Director of Planning's recommendations to rationalise the town's 50m pool to a 25m pool and the back up arguement offered based around economic rationalism. All of these councillors were complicit in the briefing they gave Otium Consultants for the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy that would see the end of a 50m pool in Batemans Bay and all of the Councillors voted to adopt the Aquatic Strategy written by the consultant knowing full well the community had not been consulted. At no point in all the election campaigning of September 2016 in Batemans Bay, by either Lindsay Brown or Liz Innes was it revealed that there was a plan afoot that might see the Batemans Bay 50m gone with a development consortium occupying the Bowling Club site and the new regional aquatic centre occupying the site of the Batemans Bay pool. The community heard Liz Innes say in September 2016 “Council’s past response to those community groups raising funds for an upgraded pool has been unsympathetic. On Friday 29 April 2016 Council media advised:

"Council has purchased the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club and Mayor Lindsay Brown says he is delighted to be able to share the news with the community after months of confidential property negotiations. “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. While Brown and Innes both used the word UPGRADE little did the community realise that their 50m pool would be downgraded to a 25m and that they would have no say in the matter as the new Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy was to be prepared by a Queensland consultant based on information provided by Council staff and delivered in such a way as to exclude all public consultation or submissions.

#Opinion #LeiParker

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