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Presentation to Council: Jeff de Jager

Submission – Public Forum 27 August 2109

Agenda Item PSR19/010 - Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre

The concept plan D, before you today, is in my opinion the best looking design so far but I have real concerns that its size and composition, particularly the absence of an Olympic pool and a small performance space, still very much compromises the whole development’s ability to attract the maximum number of paying customers which will be necessary to justify the establishment and ongoing costs associated with centre.

I would like offer some parallels between the BBRAALC and one of the things I learned during my 40 years’ management experience in retail - a business is doomed if it cannot make and sustain an attractive offering to as many customers as possible.

We’ve heard the saying “build it and they will come” but unless people can see and experience what they want, they won’t come no matter how attractive the building’s design.

In retail terms, it is the quality and width of the range offered, the pricing structure and, of course, the level of service that bring people into shops and most importantly, make them come back time after time.

At the dark end of the spectrum for retailers, some who have started prematurely by being inadequately informed or underfunded – and this also applies to going concerns that have turnover problems – try to save money by rationalising, that is reducing, the size of their premises, the width of their ranges and their stock levels. Listening to the accountant’s advice to reduce their working capital sounded good but when insufficient customers come in, sales are below expectations and those businesses are in a pickle with lease commitments, bank loans, overdrafts, suppliers looking for payment, underproductive stock and goes the tale of woe.

Also at the dark end, the pickle for retailers I’ve just described, translates to what I fear for the MacKay Park development because its components are compromised both in terms of the features incorporated and their sizes – and compromised enough to limit the potential of bring in enough paying customers.

Councillors, today you will make another milestone decision in this project’s progress and my concern is that there is, at least in the public domain, insufficient information on which you can base a responsible decision. The report before you leads to the conclusion that there are no reasonably accurate final capital, ownership or operational cost estimates and therefore no reliable indication that it will be an affordable project.

Please, Councillors, do not commit the Shire to any further expenses related to this project beyond your being fully informed as to the accurate estimate of how much it will cost to build, how it will be operated, how much it will cost to own, how much it will cost to operate and most importantly, is it affordable.

So today please do not adopt any of the recommendations in the report before you, other than No 3, to get full information for your decision.

Council promised the Shire a Gateway Development – we need to make sure that dream comes to fruition.

Jeff de Jager


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