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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Council under the spotlight for moving the goalposts without consultation

Batemans Bay Boat Association President, Harry Watson Smith, caught up with Simon Lauder of ABC Radio South East on July 20th 2021 to talk about the current activities being carried out on the Hanging Rock Boatramp, Batemans Bay Simon Lauder: When it was announced that $300,000 would be spent to upgrade the Batemans Bay boat ramp at the mouth of the Clyde local boaties were chuffed at the news however the plans have now changed and it's not such good news according to the Batemans Bay Boat Association, the President Harry Watson Smith who joins us this morning.

Thank you very much for joining us to talk about this. Now where is the latest information on this coming from?

Harry: We found out about this project when the Council tried to close the boat ramp for a day during these school holidays. We got a copy of the Engineer’s diagram and tried to relate that to what Minister Andrew Constance had approved. He had approved the southern pontoon safety upgrade, extend it, and put some lights in but when we found the plan of action it was completely different.

So about eight of us, local boaties, the game fishing clubs, fishers and other boat users, we called Council and thankfully two of their Managers came to an on-site meeting and we talk through what they were proposing and what we think should happen.

Simon Lauder: OK so from what was announced and what is in this Engineers report or what's before council at the moment. Harry, what's the difference what's changed in the plan?

Harry: There are two significant differences, firstly the approval was for the upgrade of the Southern pontoon. A pontoon is what you tie your boat to when you have launched it or when you return from fishing. That means upgrading the surface which is wood, there are splinters, the plastic on the sides are chipped and broken and the pile and the pontoon has a gap and any kid can put their hand down there and get crushed. So we really applauded the Minister for allocating money to address these safety issue but it is not going to happen.

And the second point on the northern pontoon over the years the end pontoon has been adjusted so older blokes like myself can easily get into our vessels because it has been lowered quite near the water and we can step into our boats. Kayaks & canoes can also come along side and the overhang will not protrude and turn them over. That not going ahead either because that's been taken away.

So for safety and accessibility this is really a big point. There are the lights which I can talk about but those are secondary issues.

Simon Lauder: What explanation were you given Harry from the council as to why the plan has changed so much?

Harry: There was no explanation. They said they did a survey and I believe that had 57 responses not on this particular topic and they consulted with one small group who actually don't pay the fees, the licence fees, that funded this project.

Simon Lauder: We will get onto the Council to see if they can tell us more about it. Thanks very much for bringing that to our attention.

Harry: A pleasure Simon I am sure there are many other people listening to your program - show who would contribute their particular experience of how this boat ramp just does not work.

The Beagle was advised by Max Castle, Vice President, Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW that following local concerns from Andrew Turner (Batemans Bay Game Fishing Club) and a number of other clubs in the Batemans Bay area a meeting was held with Eurobodalla Shire Council’s construction engineers at Hanging Rock Boat Ramp, Batemans Bay. Max said "Hanging Rock is a popular regional boat ramp, especially in peak periods. The rock wall entrance is poorly lit and can be tricky especially in windy conditions as waves and swell can occur just outside the break wall; it is not recommended for small estuary boats with low freeboard. It is mainly used by larger trailer boats owned by locals and tourists. The latter bring big dollars which support our local businesses."

The five clubs and the Batemans Bay Boat Association arranged a meeting to gain an understanding of what upgrading by the Council was proposed at Hanging Rock, as none of the five local fishing clubs had been consulted prior to or during the design phase. Charter boat operators also confirmed they also missed out on being consulted. Max said "Far too often projects are not being properly considered until construction has commenced. This is costly, time consuming and frustrating for all, and has been raised with Council on many occasions but continues to be the norm.

"MP Andrew Constance announced funding last year for various boat ramp locations. This was greatly appreciated by the local boating community but the missing link has been in the locations selected, the scope of the work, long delivery times and very little communication with the main local stakeholders. Fishers and boat owners will certainly be pushing for these concerns to be addressed by a new Council.


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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