06 January 2016

Reiterating Disappointment: Letter to Surf Coast Times

I write in relation to the unanimous decision by Surf Coast Shire councillors not to proceed with the development of a Surf Coast Aquatic Centre.

This is vital community infrastructure for children learning to swim, families, students and seniors.

I reiterate my profound disappointment that Council has not attempted to seek one dollar of state or federal funding. 

Contrast this with the City of Bendigo which has just secured $15m from the State Government and $4.9m from the Turnbull  Government under the National Stronger Regions Fund to construct a $31m aquatic centre complete with 50 metre pool.

It is most regrettable that we have not seen the same degree of political will, determination and vision from Surf Coast Shire.  So what happened to those pool champions?

The funding model put forward by Council which imposed a 20 year “pool tax” on ratepayers including in towns like Lorne and Winchelsea which already have a pool was divisive and inequitable, and designed to build community opposition to an aquatic centre.  Why should ratepayers bear so much of the financial burden of this development?

Let’s not forget that council racked up considerable debt because it decided to prioritise the construction of new civic offices.

Leisurelink in Waurn Ponds is already overflowing with patrons and a new pool complex in Armstrong Creek is not on the drawing board for another 15 years.

Surf Coast residents have been badly let down by a council which has not canvased alternate successful funding models or even invested in plans so that an aquatic centre can be properly costed, plans which governments require as part of any funding application.