Presentation: Bay Pavilions Financial Performance Maureen Searson
I am not able to attend the council meeting tomorrow to speak on GMR23/031. Here is my presentation. Firstly thank for valuing transparency and for commissioning the KPMG report into the Bay Pavillions. As the report notes it has only dealt with information that was available through documents provided. The level of deception and secrecy the review has found through “un-minuted meetings; an absence of documentation; no critical analysis; no evidence provided; limited information provided” the previous council engaged in is disturbing, but at least has now seen the light of day.
In their letter to council in 2020 the Office of Local Government questioned the level of demand in the community for the planned indoor 25m pool/arts complex which council withheld from the Audit and Risk Committee, councillors and the community. At that time the mood in the community was one of anger, distrust and powerlessness. The results of a Survey Monkey by a local group Community Supports and Outdoor 50m Pool [2018 and no longer available] conducted online for [then] Mackay Park Precinct, confirmed lack of support for the 25m pool. Of all responders 86.60% of people DO NOT SUPPORT Eurobodalla Council’s plans to replace the 50 metre pool with a 25 metre pool; only 18.3% of people DO SUPPORT Council’s plans. Out of all responders 56% of people SUPPORT a year round indoor heated aquatic centre with a 25 metre pool and an outdoor 50 metre pool; while 37%of people SUPPORT an indoor heated 50 metre pool; only 10% of people SUPPORT an indoor 25 metre pool. Unfortunately the previous council, apart from Clrs Mayne, McGinlay and Constable, could not care less. They were pressing ahead anyway without the support of the community.
Over five years community members spent hours writing letters, organising public meetings, doing presentations, meeting community groups, trying to get information from a secretive council, some applying for GIPA requests and contacting the NSW Ombusdman. While the report focuses on the financial situation – depreciation and operating loss across the Bay Pavillions, I am hopeful councillors understand the situation from the community point of view as you are the community’s voice in council.
A survey of 128 councils in NSW in 2018 was informative. We wanted to see how other councils engaged with the community when aquatic facilities required upgrading or replacing. Councils were transparent inviting people to have a say using a survey on the website or through a public meeting before any decisions were made. Perhaps Council could consider this type of engagement in addition to the information now shared on the website and Facebook page to make sure all community members have easy access to have their say.
I appreciate council has a task ahead to work out what to do now. Whatever that is, I hope council seeks advice from experts when necessary.