Decision to sell pools made without community consultation

Deep water: Council's decision to rubber stamp a plan to sell off the two assets before any community consultation was carried out has come under fire from the Ratepayers Association. Photo: Peter Hardin
Deep water: Council's decision to rubber stamp a plan to sell off the two assets before any community consultation was carried out has come under fire from the Ratepayers Association. Photo: Peter Hardin

The Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association have labeled council’s actions as “underhanded” after it was revealed that a plan to sell off both the Scully Park and City pools was rubber stamped some seven months before community consultation began.

Vice President of the TRRRA David McKinnon said that the association were shocked to discover that TRC passed a resolution of intent to sell the existing facilities in May last year.

“It was a proposal, and then an intention, but it appears that the decision has been approved and council have carried on ever since,” he said.

“We don’t think the town knows that or have approved that, and for that reason we are looking for clarity on whether the town people want to lose the City and Scully Park pools – we believe the community haven't been given adequate say when it comes to these iconic recreational spots.” 

Meanwhile TRC General Manager Paul Bennett declined an interview, although did issue a written statement.

“At a Council Meeting on 23 May 2017, it was determined that if a new facility was to be built, the two existing facilities would be sold to achieve maximum return and assist in minimising the ratepayer’s contribution to a new facility,” he said. 

“Council welcomes the communities say on this, and encourages them to have their say before February 28.”

Of major concern to the TRRRA is the likely future of both pool sites once those sale have gone through, with the City pool, a pristine and iconic city green space, likely to be lost to developers, while TRC and Wests Entertainment Group have already held talks in regards to Scully Park.

“There has never been any concern from ratepayers about the costs of maintaining the pools. Yes they are old, but that doesn’t mean you just ditch them. Serious renovation money needs to be spent, but ratepayers don’t feel it is an unreasonable cost to upgrade and maintain the existing pools.” 

The Association also hold several other concerns about the proposal.

They believe that the existing pools, even if sold off, need to remain as green spaces for the community.

They would also like more consideration towards the health benefits of having two facilities central to the population, and specifically school groups, who would not only have to add bus fares to excursion costs, but also the increased cost of entry to the proposed facility.

“There is a real need in Tamworth for a healthy population. Kids don’t have access to vehicles and the Sports Dome is not safely accessible by bike or by foot as the two existing pools are. CBD workers regularly use the pools in lunch breaks – the new site wouldn’t allow enough time for this either.” 

“It just doesn’t seem like a very healthy place to install a new pool as far as the community are concerned.

“The population is booming on the eastern edge of Tamworth with Moore Creek, Oxley Vale and Forest Hills. This new pool will be even further away from them and from the growing population. 

“By closing two pools and opening one they are not really showing much forward planning in terms of population growth.

“It must not be rushed, we must have the consent of the entire town.” 

There is are also concern that the closure of the central pools will result in more kids swimming in the Peel River with a vastly increased risk of drownings and accidents.

The Council’s community consultation survey cane be found at www.tamworth.nsw.gov.au/haveyoursay. 

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