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Mayor unapologetic about Council caught out trying to lease BBay Community Centre

In an interview on ABC South East Radio July 15th 2020 the Mayor of Eurobodalla, Liz Innes was asked to respond to a question sent in by a listener regarding the negotiations on a lease of the Batemans Bay Community Centre and provide updates. The Mayor, rather than taking the opportunity to apologise to the community for Council's role in undertaking negotiations with a third party to lease a building that she and her fellow councillors had promised would not occur, decided instead to attack the community members downplaying the backlash Council had received saying "sometimes that people are very reactive and assume that deals or whatever have or will be done.

Knowing full well that a resolution (above), adopted by Council in March 2019, to defer ALL activity in regard to sale or lease of the community centre, was in place the Mayor still offered "As with anything, when somebody approaches Council it is up to Council to take it into consideration and... like responsible adults we need to go out into our community and have those conversations" "It is unfortunate sometimes that people are very reactive and assume that deals or whatever have or will be done but that is not the case. It is really important that when these issues come up we have a conversation, whether it's robust, whether people have strong views on that, that is OK. It's just important that we have those discussions." The fact of the matter that the Mayor fails to realise is that if Council has a resolution to NOT lease the building then they say NO. They do not consider the approach to such an extent that they then - advise groups in writing that use the hall that they need to find alternate space - advise Meals on Wheels that they will be compromised by new arrangements in the building that will impact their activities. - advise users that there will be an upcoming report to Councillors for them to approve a two year lease. The reason that "sometimes that people are very reactive and assume that deals or whatever have or will be done" is because the evidence is there that deals are being done and WILL be done. The Mayor then mentions "it is really important that when these issues come up we have a conversation". "The issue" that the Mayor refers to came up on July the 7th by way of an email sent by Council to the U3A group who are major users of the Community Centre. The official email advised (in part) : Headspace is coming to Batemans Bay and they have asked Council to consider leasing them the entire Batemans Bay Community Centre building for the next two years. Headspace needs to be located close to the CBD, but not in a main street location to ensure a degree of privacy, and near their partner organisations to help with service delivery. They need a facility with a range of spaces and outdoor activity areas and accessible entry points. The Community Centre is ideal and providing a lease would mean the service can start soon. The lease report will go to Council on the 28th of July. If a lease is agreed, Headspace will need to take over the Community Centre in stages from August. The timing of this is something we will work through with them. There is very little doubt that people would be "very reactive and assume that deals or whatever have or will be done" When the group enquired how they might "communicate" they were advised they could make a submission to the Council and make a presentation to the Councillors during Public Forum prior to the July 28th meeting. By the very evidence revealed this week of Council engaging in backroom discussions with a prospective lessee contrary to a commitment they made to the community to not do so, with Council intending to bring the lease to a council meeting to be adopted, and with the letter advising centre users that they will need to consider alternate accommodations there is little surprise that the community believed the decision was out of their hands, especially when they were advised that the leasing was an Operational Matter that is handled by staff and as the centre is classified Operational councillors have very little say in the matter.

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