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Presentation to Council: Maureen Searson

I wish to speak on Agenda Item PSR19/010 - Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre – Tuesday 27th August

Thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning.

Councillors, apparently, you have been shown where a 50m 5 lane pool could be sited in the future but has not been made clear to the general public. What is on offer ‘in the future’ is a half sized Olympic pool. Nonetheless in identifying space in the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre where a 50 metre x 5 lane pool could be provided in the future, Director Usher notes in his report that “a 50 metre pool does not form part of the development scope and remains outside the financial capacity of the project and the community.”

Above: From Council's report : Previous Council resolutions have required the design process to consider the potential for future expansion, specifically the potential to provide for a 50 metre pool and expansion of the theatre. The design process has identified space where a 50 metre x 5 lane pool could be provided along the eastern boundary of the site between the proposed aquatics hall and the theatre wing. This has been illustrated on plans presented to Councillors but is not contained on the attached concept plan, as the provision of a 50 metre pool does not form part of the development scope and remains outside the financial capacity of the project and the community.

According to the report a 50 metre pool inclusion in the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre is not in the financial capacity of the community. How can Council possibly consider the inclusion of another gym that appears to take up almost one third of the proposed Aquatic Centre? The inclusion of a gym in an aquatic centre is not unusual, but there are already 6 gyms in Batemans Bay. This is the public’s money. The public was not consulted about the gym. How is another gym going to “provide significant social and economic benefits?”

With Plan D the community is being asked to accept giving up a much valued and well utilised 50 metre pool. Save Batemans Bay’s 50m Pool and Our Towns Our Say know this from letters of support, survey results over the last 2 years and Councils own survey in February this year - for a 25m pool and another gym. I am concerned that the space that has been suggested for an outdoor 50 metre pool has been sacrificed for the expanded gym.

We know that the inclusion of an outdoor 50 metre pool would provide significant social and economic benefits. The most sustainable use of aquatic centres is to have an indoor 25m pool and an outdoor 50m pool to maximise patronage locally and for holding regional carnivals. The 25m pool is used for warming up and cooling down and the 50m pool is used for the carnival. As mentioned by others, the benefits this would bring to Batemans Bay and surrounds in accommodation, food, tourism and entertainment are immense.

If other Councils can build an indoor heated 10 lane 25 metre pool, an outdoor heated 8 lane 50 metre pool and comparable aquatic inclusions for $26 million why are we spending $51 million for a facility without a 50 metre pool?

The issue of Mayor Innes’s potential conflicts of interest arose during the Council’s kiosks. Questions were asked for the reason that there was another gym in the then 3 concepts. The reply was that the owners of OneLife Gym (close relatives of Mayor Innes) have “expressed an interest in occupying” in the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic Art and Leisure Centre. Can Mayor Innes assure the community that you have upheld the Model Code of Conduct and “avoided or appropriately managed any conflicts of interests in favor of your public duty?”

Transparency and accountability in local government is crucial to restore public trust in politics. Local government is the public’s grassroots contact with politics. Councillors; Save Batemans Bay’s 50m Pool and Our Towns Our Say urge you not to endorse Mr Usher’s recommendations 1, 2, and 4 today. Given the lack of transparency during the process, and accountability to the public since the beginning of this project, I urge you to wait until receipt of a further report on operational management model options and project budget.

Thank you.

Maureen Searson

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