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Presentation: Coral Anderson on BBay Community Centre leasing and sale Oct 27th 2020

Morning Councillors (or should I say Council because that’s what you are, you are the Council, ‘a body of people elected  by the people to manage the affairs of a city, county, or other municipal district for and on behalf of the people’.  The ‘Council’ is not a body of public servants.

Section 233 of the Local Government Act 1993 reads:

Oath and affirmation for councillors

A councillor must take an oath of office or make an affirmation of office at or before the first meeting of the council after the councillor is elected.

The oath or affirmation may be taken or made before the general manager of the council, an Australian legal practitioner or a justice of the peace and is to be in the following form—

Oath I swear/affirm that I will undertake the duties of the office of councillor in the best interests of the people of Eurobodalla Shire and the Eurobodalla Shire Council and that I will faithfully and impartially carry out the functions, powers, authorities and discretions vested in me under the Local Government Act 1993 or any other Act to the best of my ability and judgment.

Do you remember taking that Oath/Affirmation four years ago?  Will you uphold that Oath/Affirmation on behalf of the people who elected you to represent them and to act in their best interests?

Questions

  • Why have Staff at Council’s Facility Booking Office previously liaised with Batemans Bay Community Centre users to clarify their specific needs and find suitable alternative venues when Council claims it has made no decision regarding the future of the Centre? There is obviously a decision in ‘principle’ to consider the idea of disposing of the facility.

  • Why were not these solicitous enquirers simply told that the Community Centre was not for lease? After all it is a Community Centre, owned by the community and used for community purposes on land owned by the community with the building paid for by the community.

  • Will you advise  the names of those ‘unsolicited requesters’?

  • Are the ‘unsolicited requesters’ aware of the strong community resistance to the leasing of the centre? Already one potential lessee has pulled out when made aware of the ongoing community concerns and opposition to the proposed move.

  • Why was  its disposal  ever on the table when we were assured by the general manager  that the Batemans Bay Aquatic, Arts & Leisure Centre  project would be built within our Shire budget?

The Batemans Bay Aquatic, Arts & Leisure Centre project  will add another layer of activity for the community, but it in no way meets the present, let alone the projected needs of our many community groups for meetings and activities. To compare: currently available at the BB Community Centre (excluding toilet facilities) is 397sm of space for various activities, all at ground floor level access in the centre of town with no highway to cross. In the planned BB Regional Aquatic, Arts & Leisure Centre, on the other side of the highway, there is 183sm of space allocated for 3 meeting rooms, two designated as Art workshops. There is also no provision for a commercial kitchen, only a kitchenette with an urn, and no sprung floor in sight.  

Why should we have to lose any key community assets to prop up operational costs of the new leisure centre, especially the present Community Centre, which was built by community fundraising and efforts.

Eurobodalla Council is colloquially and embarrassingly known as ‘Eur-rob-a-dollar’ locally because of its  perceived over emphasis on money as first value, rather than community value, and the enormous debt we are currently headed for as a result of the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts & Leisure Centre  project, initially and ongoing.  Such reference hardly instils faith in investors.

You say user groups can go elsewhere, but to do so would be to disperse community focus and hundreds of community activities rather than make them more cohesive.

I support Impact Eurobodalla and several other  in their submissions and particular concerns in this regard.

Finally, a  brief history of the Batemans Bay Community Centre as told to me by a long time local .....

The original Batemans Bay Community Centre was built by the community on land donated to it where the old Westpac building sits in Orient Street.   Somehow, it then came under the ‘care and control’ of Eurobodalla Shire Council. 

‘Council’ at some later stage decided to sell the Community Centre against the wishes of the community.  I believe a sum of $600,000 from the proceeds of that sale were used to build a new community centre on reclaimed land in Museum Place opposite the Museum which  has just recently signed a further 20 year lease.  Lot 101 in Deposited Plan 1001026, which includes the watergardens and museum,  is currently classified ‘operational’.  However, this land could simply be reclassified as  ‘community use’.  To get the ball rolling, and according to the Office of Local Government,  the first step is for our Council (Councillors) to simply  pass a resolution today to that effect.

Over to you councillors.


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