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Councillor James Thomson moves to close down debate on leasing BBay Comm Centre

In what was a sometimes fiery Extraordinary Meeting of Council this afternoon (Dec 17th 2020) the mostly mute and taciturn Clr James Thomson moved to closed down any further discussion or debate around the rescission motion that was put forward to defer the leasing of the Batemans Bay Community Centre to an outside agency before the opening of the Mackay Park Centre in February 2022. Of disgust to those watching the meeting live both Cl Thomson and Cl Brown set out to shut the entire discussion down from the outset, by not supporting the motion to move to a Committee of the Whole where councillors could talk openly on the issue. The Mayor was present however it was known from communications that morning that her internet coverage was poor. Based on that, the decision was made that the Deputy Mayor, Rob Pollock chair the meeting, much to the surprise of those who know that the Mayor has a prestige council car that is provided by the ratepayer and she could well have driven to town to attend an Extraordinary Meeting. Instead Cl Rob Pollock once again delivered a very poorly chaired meeting with his continued use of first names and his failures of meeting procedures and protocols that saw several points of order raised and even two motions of dissent for him to stand down from the chair. The first motion of dissent by Clr Mayne was ignored and the second motion from Clr Constable was lost by the typical voting bloc of Brown, Thomson, Tait and Nathan and Innes. The voting today of the Innes Voting bloc to not support a rescission motion saw Councillors McGinlay, Mayne and Constable shake their heads in disbelief. Councillor Constable argued that the community had a very clear understanding that the BBCC would remain open until such time as the Mackay Park Centre doors opened. While the General Manager proceeded to argue around the context of her responses to Dr Sue Mackenzie Councillor Constable and McGinlay both noted that the single statement by the GM that "Council would not be in a position to vacate the BBCC until the Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre has been constructed and is operational," was able to be read alone and that the statement required no context. Council is expecting a rental on the Batemans Bay Community Centre of $100,000 per year over the next ten years to help pay the running costs of the pool. Clr Maureen Nathan revealed that the commercial rent that Council might expect from the Batemans Bay Community Centre over a ten year period was more than one million dollars. adding "We have to look at what know now and what we can guess at prudentially " qualifying her figure on her extensive knowledge of commercial renting and the fact that her son is a project manager. Most likely the figure also represents the figures that have been discussed by councillors and staff behind closed doors and Councillor Nathan may just have breached a confidentiality agreement. The Otium Business case for a $46 million facility offered that the expected operational costs would be in the order of $900,000 per year. Adding to this an estimated $1.2 million for depreciation the expected annual expenditure for a $46 million building was $2.1 million. That cost is most likely now doubled however the public are unable to see the figures as they are considered "commercial in confidence" by Council and not to be released. While it was argued today that the preferred lessee would be seeking discounted rental and that other groups decided not to put in EOIs on the understanding that Council was looking to lease at market rates the teflon coated Get out of Jail statement was that anyone putting forward an EOI was invited to indicate what rent they were willing to pay. In closing the debate, as demanded by the aphonic and rarely contributing Clr James Thomson, and seconded by Mayor Innes, Councillor Pat McGinlay was able to put in one last statement for the rescission motion saying "All I have heard since this issue came up over two or three different meetings and public forums is the vast majority of people who have a view expressing it very much, talking about their concerns, either individually or on behalf of different groups, up to 597 people we heard this morning, the Meals on Wheels people to add to them, PERFEX, the dancing groups etc etc .... these are not THESE PEOPLE ... these are our community. I don't think you can put this down to a few blank canvasses or whatever label you would like to apply to more vociferous people in our community... we had a petition of over 1000 people who've objected to this. This is not a few noisy people. This is a heck of a lot of people from a very diverse part of our community giving their honest views and opinions and think we are generally, if we don't accept this rescission motion saying "sorry guys, that doesn't matter, we know better".

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