Last week the Innes voting bloc of Innes, Pollock, Tait, Nathan and Brown defeated Councilors Mayne, McGinlay and Constable and accepted the staff recommendation to proceed with evicting the community from their Community Centre and lease it instead to SEARMS Aboriginal Housing Corporation to be used as an annex to their existing building on the Old Princes Highway, Batemans Bay, NSW. The leasing came about because Council claim they were approached with several unsolicited offers to lease out the BBCC. The intention of Council to lease and then sell the Community Centre building has been very much under the radar of the wider community, unaware that Council say they need to sell the building to pay for the blowout in the $70m 25m Mackay Park Pool and hall. Due to the classification of the Community Centre being Operational rather than classified as Community the Council say they are not required to seek public submissions or feedback and can do as they wish. So staff pressed ahead, knowing full well they had a petition of over 1000 signatures against their proposal. Staff also were aware of the groundswell of anger that was building as more and more in the community discovered their intention. In the end Council received a number of submissions from the community. With the exception of the two potential leases, there appeared to be nil submissions that supported the lease. Leading the rescission motion Councillor Anthony Mayne said "As a community we have come through a great deal together throughout 2020. We have faced fires, floods, recession and a pandemic together. We supported each other as a community. At the heart of our mutual support and resilience is a sense of mateship. A sense of mutual care, respect and keeping an eye out for each other." "The BBCC provides a central location for 15 community groups to utilise a purpose built facility that is owned by the community. When the community was asked through submissions about the prospect of a lease, they clearly said no to the lease. "While the concept of a lease of the BBCC has been on the table to help offset the cost of the BBAAC, there was an understanding that the community would be offered a like for like to rent rooms at the BBAAC when it was completed. "There seems to be a level of misunderstanding as to this point. This point will require clarification as part of the Rescission Motion. "While Council has sought to work with the 15 community groups which will be displaced should the BBCC be leased, there has been no facilitated engagement process with our community. "Due to the classification, the engagement has been about facilitating the process of moving on these impacted community groups. This has been unfortunate and has caused a level of angst within the groups in question. "Following such an extraordinary and challenging year, rather than imposing change on our community in Batemans Bay, Council has the opportunity to engage with all the key stakeholders to find a viable way forward. A way forward which encompasses a transparent and meaningful consultation process that helps build and enhance our community on the South Coast." Councillor Anthony Mayne has given notice that at the Extraordinary Meeting of Council on Thursday 17 December 2020, he will move the following motion. MOTION THAT the decision to lease out the Batemans Bay Community Centre (BBCC), as per the CCS20/054 Motion of 8 December 2020, be rescinded and that Council resolves to maintain the BBCC as currently being operated; with a review of those operations and functions being undertaken after the completion of the Batemans Bay Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre. If you wish to speak to this motion, you must register your intent and provide a copy of your presentation to council by 12 noon 16/12/2020. Members of the public are invited to address Council at public forum which will be held at 9.30am.
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