Bega Valley Shire mayor plays hard ball on the Pambula squash court development

Local squash players want to know what is happening to their courts.
Local squash players want to know what is happening to their courts.

While council put the score on the board for the Pambula squash court development at its March 26 meeting, that could be torn down if a rescission motion lodged by Mayor Bill Taylor wins majority support at today’s council meeting.

At the March 26 meeting council resolved to construct multipurpose squash courts (courts with removable walls to enable other uses) located next to the Sapphire Aquatic Centre at an estimated cost of $510,000.

A blowout in the cost of construction of around $120,000 due to the original supplier withdrawing from the market, was the subject of debate at the council meeting. Those in favour of the development thought it should proceed regardless to meet council’s original undertaking to the community, while those opposed wanted the matter to be deferred to allow for the identification of the extra $100,000 within council’s budget and what other projects might have to be postponed to accommodate it.

There are no squash courts in the Pambula Merimbula area. The nearest courts are in Eden and Bega and both clubs have little capacity for new players.

Cr Tony Allen was in favour of giving the development the go-ahead. “Squash courts were available to the Merimbula community on the old (Main Street) council site but due to the condition of the building we closed it.

“We took the facility from the community and I believe we have a moral obligation to replace what we took from them. The Pambula Sports Complex is designated as a regional sports centre.”

“The council has already approved $390,000 for the project.”

He said the extra $120,000 could be repaid when council sold the Main street site. “Funding should not be a concern,” Cr Allen said.

Cr Taylor said he wanted the matter deferred on the basis that council would be “pulling $120,000 from other sources”.  Cr Taylor said he was not averse to the proposal but wanted a report on where the additional funding might come from and also an exploration of option 4 to construct a multipurpose indoor stadium at an estimated cost of $688,000 instead of the squash courts.

Cr Kristy McBain said it was a resolution of the council to support three courts with removable walls.  She said option 4 wasn’t a solution as it “denies the development of squash courts.”

“We need to confirm our commitment and construct the development in accordance with that,” Cr McBain said.

Cr Liz Seckold said she supported Cr Taylor’s comments, while Cr Sharon Tapscott said she was in favour of giving the project the green light.

Cr Russell Fitzpatrick said council condemned the Main Street building in 2010. “I believe the 2012 resolution of the council should be adhered to. “In excess of 100 people play squash in the Merimbula area. I will be supporting this as something for the southern part of the shire.”   

A motion moved by Crs Allen and McBain that council construct multipurpose squash courts at the Pambula Sporting Complex at a cost of $510,000 was put and carried. In support were Crs Allen, McBain, Fitzpatrick and Tapscott.

Against were three councillors from the north Crs Taylor, Seckold and Greens Keith Hughes.

Crs Britten and Mawhinney were absent.

Cr Taylor has lodged the rescission motion for the following reasons:

1. Council has not identified funding for the commitment;

2. Council resolved on May 1 ,2012

“That council receive a report on the Pambula sporting Complex Masterplan including costings, feasibility study and the ongoing financial commitment required after completion, including proposed squash courts, with a view to developing the project as the major sporting facility in the southern area of the shire.”

3. Council has received a concept plan but has yet to receive a Facility Management plan for the Pambula Sportsground Complex.

4. Council needs to properly consider the whole master plans for the southern regional sporting complex and for the northern regional complex. Both masterplans should be considered to obtain the best results for residents of the shire.

The rescission motion is signed by Crs Taylor, Seckold and Hughes.


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