It beggars belief that mayor Chaffey and councillors O'Keefe, Hooke and Campbell have spoken to the NVI re their decision to block reinstatement of a 8pm pool closing time given they used council procedures to deny such a discussion and shut down debate in the council chamber at the October council meeting.
I've sat in other council meetings where the meeting orders have been applied loosely and councillors have been extended the opportunity to speak at length and beyond the confines of the normally meeting rules to make comment and grandstand. So, this move is a shock and disappointing when there's been a very clear indication from the community that they want to be consulted on the pool hours.
One would hope for their elected officials to act with more integrity.
In comments to the NVI, Cr O'Keefe tells us to vote with our feet. But with the pool season disrupted for the last two years we haven't had a chance to exercise that right. Maybe at the next election we should just vote with our pencil.
It's been reported to council that pool staff observed fewer patrons in the last hour. But there's no solid data and the last two swim seasons have been heavily interrupted by the pool redevelopment and therefore are not an accurate reference point. Cr Hooke quotes low numbers entering the pool in the last hour, but does not include those staying on during the whole afternoon. And usage figures don't include season pass holders either!
Council's aim is to recover a cost ratio of 30 percent for the pool. Why 30 percent? Isn't the pool a necessary community asset accessed by a broad cross-section of residents and to which we contribute our rates including a rate increase to build the new pool in the first place? Why is the council treating the pool differently to infrastructure like the airport which is used by a handful of community members and does not come close to a cost ratio of 30 percent?
In the defeated motion councillors were looking for a study with 'accurate figures' to determine whether having extended pool opening hours will impact the cost ratio. That councillors Chaffey, O'Keefe, Hooke and Campbell shut this debate down and do not want to look at reliable data is disappointing to say the least. Something voters should remember come September 2021.