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Editorial July 10th 2020

Welcome to this week’s editorial, This week the Batemans Bay community have learnt that their Community Centre, that was built and paid for by the community, is to be leased to headspace, formally the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, is an Australian non-profit organisation for youth mental health established by the Australian Government in 2006. While this might be good for headspace and while the Council will enjoy the income for the next two years of this first lease period the wider community has now been told they will have to find somewhere else to go for the Youth Café, the Meals On Wheels food preparations, the University of the Third Age courses available to their 650 members, the local sports groups and the local market farmers that run the weekly Thursday market selling local produce and wares. While the lease report will go to Council on the 28th of July the open day to celebrate the announcement will be held on 17 July 2020 from 10am to 4pm at the Community Centre in Batemans Bay. There will no doubt be a turn out on the day of the 1000 signatories to a petition presented to Council last year asking that they retain the Centre for the community rather than lease it or sell it. If a lease is agreed to by the councillors , headspace will need to take over the Community Centre in stages from August. As Council has changed the classification of the land from Community to Operational this is now an operational matter under the delegated authority given by councillors to the General Manager. As such she can do as she wishes with the building and the community do not need to be either advised or engaged on the matter nor given any opportunity for objection via submission.

The General Manager has previously advised the Batemans Bay community in writing that she "cannot give you any long term assurance on the future of the Batemans Bay Community Centre (BBCC), other than that which I have previously provided – namely that Council has not made any long term decisions," adding "The BBCC will need to remain open to the community until the new Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre (AALC) is constructed and operational. Maintaining the existing facility would duplicate functions and add operational costs while removing potential sale or lease options, including the revenue arising from such. This would have the effect of inadvertently increasing the operational cost of the AALC and deprive that centre of a potential source of income, therefore compromising its affordability, including the theatre."

And there you have it. A done deal, all attended to behind closed doors with the community now the poorer. As to why headspace HAD to go there rather than anywhere else in the now empty BBay CBD is anyone’s guess. Until next—lei

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