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?