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Batemans Bay Community Centre

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David Maclachlan: President of Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber address to Council regarding the Batemans Bay Community Centre motion PE19/001 and the presented petition of approximately 1000 signatures concerning the future of the Batemans Bay Community Centre.

I had a company which ran multi-use centres for profit – I offered my Profit and Loss Statements to Council on a number of occasions to assist in their understanding of how profitable multi-use venues are run. 

I would like to address the business case referred to in this motion, I would also like to address the impact of selling the Batemans Bay Community Centre will have on the outcomes of the new Arts centre in McKay Park. 

At the last two Council held forums on the Regional Aquatics, Arts and Leisure Centre which was conducted for business I requested Councils list of potential users for the new arts centre and I asked if the users included Batemans Bay Community Centre users so that informed input could be made. On both occasions I received a positive response that the request would be considered, though I heard nothing further.

At the last business forum I also asked if a business case could be furnished to enable informed input. The Council officer running the forums said that he would consider this and see if he could provide the business case in confidence to the Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber. The architects in the forum then interjected and said there was no business case, though there was a list of potential users. 

So,  the architects had just told us that they had been designing a significant centre without a business case. Those present were gobsmacked by this revelation.

Much of the General Managers response to this motion focuses on offsetting the new Arts Centre costs with Batemans Bay Community Centre costs. This rationale signifies the change of use of the new Arts centre to more of an inevitable replacement for the Batemans Bay Community Centre.  

I do not believe the people of the Shire will reconcile the new Arts centre becoming a glorified community centre. The community expects Council to provide what they set out to provide, and that is an iconic arts facility which would provide significant entertainment and not be a white elephant.

The Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber has always said the new Arts centre at McKay park needs sufficient seating capacity and open space capacity to be multi-use, relevant and limit being a burden to the ratepayer.

Unfortunately, when a design is born out of benchmarking loss making Local Government run centres then the notion of reducing capacity to mitigate loss becomes OK, when in fact the opposite is true.

Almost 2 years ago I made public comments that 500 seats was small and would not attract national acts and would have difficulty attracting popular acts. I said the venue could not expect to see shows such as the Wiggles. My comments were publicly negated by the Mayor who made reference to my Wiggles comment in a Bay Post article.  The new Arts centre design has now been reduced to a size that will definitely not hold the Wiggles or national acts, nor trade shows, nor large format events such as multiple Choirs and exhibitions.

The new arts centre is now too small to be leased or privately managed due to lack of financially viable seating capacity or open space, thus increasing rate payer burden. 

If Council decides to sell the Batemans Bay Community Centre, then Council needs to reset peoples expectations about the new Arts centre and its purpose as it will no longer be a destination venue.

Council also needs to reset Batemans Bay Community Centre users expectations if Otiums business case including suggested rates is adopted – It was mentioned in the General Managers response to this motion that Council had adopted Otiums business case.

While Council has stated they have not made a decision on selling Batemans Bay Community Centre, I would hope this motion is passed by Councillors to simply acknowledge community sentiment about the Batemans Bay Community Centre and more importantly the community concerns about McKay Park outcomes and process.

Remember: Ulladulla has 450 seats and 1500 seats , Nowra has 900 seats, the Soldiers club has about 450 seats,  why are we doing 350 seats with no multi use space?

Thank You

Chamber Activity Update to April 2019.

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  1. Chamber members attended Mackay Park forums for businesses on two occasions. Chamber members agreed with others on recommending a seating capacity of 800 seats and 800 sqm space for events. Both recommendations were to provide differentiation from existing venues, allow for sublease to mitigate financial loss and attract national touring performing arts events, trade shows and general event diversity.  

Chamber requested that Council does not compete against local business or create loss for local businesses in providing cheaper rental space. A need for more parking was also discussed.

The second forum was presented with impressive drawings. Chamber asked to view the business plan and the schedule of users so that we could make informed comment. The architects said in contradiction to the presiding Council officer that a business plan did not exist. Chamber asked to view the schedule of users in confidence and asked if the users were primarily from the community centre – we await a response.

  1. A survey is still to be completed by the Chamber of businesses from the North St intersection to the end of Clyde St. To date the respondents have mixed views. Some have improved trade while others are fearful of the effect of closure of Highway access to Clyde Street.
  1. Chamber members sit on a newly formed “Build the Bay” type marketing committee put together and financed by John Holland, the bridge contractors.  The purpose of this group is to improve CBD business during bridge construction with a marketing program.
  1. Chamber is currently investigating a Federal Election Chamber Breakfast at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club at 7:30am Tuesday 30 April. The breakfast will be strictly for members and up to two guests. We have invited the following candidates for Gilmore: Fiona Phillips, Warren Mundine, Carmel McCallum and Katrina Hodgkinson.  We will notify members of cost and whether this will occur.
  1. An email reiterating the Chambers push for extending the floating pontoon and T Wharf development has been sent to the Foreshore Action Committee. The current design discussions while offering diversity of use, do not have an increased capacity which we will continue to lobby for.
  1. Chamber has written to the Mayor requesting a timeframe for installation of Sculptures. Chamber offered a further $5,000 towards installation to assist expediting the installation prior to Christmas 2018. 
  1. Chamber awaits a response after supporting the Mayors mediation request.
  1. There has been informal discussions amongst some business owners and others about formation of a Batemans Bay vison strategy group. Narooma has such a group.  While the Chamber has advocated for such for a number of years it is pertinent timing to be involved now.
  1. Chamber Executive (in absence of self interest parties) have decided to support the $200 million Coachhhouse re-development as outlined by the guest speaker in the previous meeting. The development will bring over 100 extra jobs and an unprecedented $200 million private investment to the Shire. In light of current large tourism accommodation proposals, shortage of private investment in Batemans Bay and need for economic growth to address economic and social fundamentals, this decision was taken. The Chamber supports all businesses in Batemans Bay.