More than just a pool
Decommissioning the Golden Square pool is too soon when it’s future hasn’t been properly considered and created.
I have read the council report and I understand that traditionally it doesn’t make sense to have a pool within 2.5 kilometres of another pool (in this case two pools – the soon to be opened Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre in Kangaroo Flat and the Bendigo Aquatic Centre).
I understand there are costs to consider both short and long term and I can see that a city wide strategy was adopted in 2010 which included closing the Golden Square pool.
The thing that is completely missing in all of this is that the Golden Square pool isn’t just a pool – it’s a community.
It’s grown from strength to strength since the Golden Square pool committee was formed.
The facility itself is managed by dedicated locals volunteering their time and is used by residents who have come to know it as their space – a space to meet and gather, learn, play, relax, and use as respite on extreme weather days.
This community has been built from five years of relationships, trust, connections and giving people a purpose. This community provides so many benefits, more than any economic model is accounting for and more than any council can create themselves.
No amount of money can buy the level of community and ownership that exists here. You can’t just decommission a community. Squashing the enthusiasm and goodwill of people in this community is disrespectful and poor form.
I note that council intends to run a master planning and engagement process after the pool has been decommissioned.
It makes no sense to enter into this kind of process after the pool is closed and the relationship with the community has been damaged.
Engagement needs to be a critical tool used in advance of implementation of the end result. If council were intending to close the pool in March, the master planning and engagement that is mentioned in the report should have been done a year ago.
The actual pool facility includes a kiosk, toilets and change rooms, BBQ facilities and three pools. Given the resources of community, I’m confident that many other productive possibilities beyond decommissioning can be found.
Council needs to rectify the situation by extending the lease for at least another two years. During that time they need to work with the community respectfully and collaboratively, giving them a chance to be a part of the solution before it’s too late.
We can all act
Adam Richards and his son Ned are walking from Sydney to Canberra to raise awareness of the plight of the children, women and men indefinitely detained on Nauru and Manus Island because they have appealed to Australia for protection from
Adam said “People standing for what’s right is the only thing that’s ever made a difference”.
We can’t all walk with Adam and Ned but we can all take some action such as contacting politicians to say we want them to act to end the hopeless misery and allow these people to get on with their lives.
Step up to the mark
Council’s Community Satisfaction Survey (CSS) overall performance index score in 2013 was 63 out of a possible 100.
Recommendation 51 of the 2013 Independent Review concluded “….there is significant room for improvement … Council should actively seek opportunities for improvement, regardless of the perceived performance of other councils”.
The review recommended council set satisfaction targets, implement appropriate plans and track progress annually.
Council officers dodged. Claimed their alternative approach, and work of a number of other recommendations, would produce better outcomes. Rubbish.
Council claimed the CEO would report results yearly, identify areas for improvement and recommend actions. This has not happened, and that says it all.
Documents show council sets no CSS targets; it just records scores out of 100 for services like governance, and sealed roads. How on earth do you motivate staff, measure performance, and be publicly accountable without a target?
Council’s score has slumped to 56. Does council have little interest in residents’ judgements?
The problem is officers dominate. They aren’t fond of facing independent community scoreboard assessments. Most residents, especially the poor, never use council imposed fringe services which have exploded in recent years. Recent CSS results confirm officers have a different set of priorities to everyday residents.
Councillors should ask why customers give Bendigo Bank a satisfaction score of 89, while council scores 56.
Council received an ideas blueprint on how targets might be set and reached. But will councillors act to put everyday residents first, rather than officer and special interest group influences?
It is high time councillors stepped up to the mark, set CSS targets, direct officers to meet those targets, and report to the community.
I am not saying that the council couldn’t run the Queens Baton Relay and it isn’t a requirement of the Commonwealth Committee that would have specifically stated that all the CBD be closed down, I doubt very much that would be the case.
And by doing this created chaos on the streets, disrupted businesses, made it difficult for people to get to work, also children going to school – just sheer nonsense.
How much easier would it have been to run the relay straight through the main street starting at either Kangaroo Flat or Golden Square and running to White Hills?
It would have meant that marshals be placed on intersections with flags or stop-slow signs with a vehicle of some description front and back of the baton carrier, you wouldn’t need all the roads blocked off which would have been more cost effective and easier for all concerned.
It worked quite well for the torch relay through Bendigo for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, why couldn’t a similar decision have been made for the best interests of everybody?
Questions on enquiry
How long does it take to complete a departmental inquiry? Now over 12 months from start of last school year when Ernie Fleming, principal of Bendigo South East College (BSE) was “moved aside” pending an inquiry into some issues or complaints levelled at him. Why is it taking so long for this to be resolved?
Is this the way a government department should treat one of its most highly respected and successful principals and school for being a champion and leader in demonstrating what is needed to provide the best public education for our children?
Why is the school community being left in limbo? Bendigo Senior Secondary College and BSE are both without their appointed principals
After numerous requests for information and responses to this situation from both our local member and the regional office last year there are still no answers and no return of Mr Fleming as the rightful principal of BSE.
Is this the way for our school community, the school council, parents and broader school supporters to be treated let alone the impact on Mr Fleming?
Where is the transparency of why this happened in the first place?
Extremely disappointed to hear Golden Square pool may close. This is my first summer in Bendigo and I have been taking my two granddaughters to it – it is clean, family friendly with the lawned area, shade trees and shade sails.
The staff are helpful and friendly. The three pools are a credit to the volunteer staff that look after them, the outdoor lounge chairs and water items for the kids to play with are an added bonus.
Will the new pool in Kangaroo Flat also offer all of this? I hope the council will reconsider their decision to close it.