Councillors clash over location for aquatic centre PROGRESS: Labor councillor Declan Clausen says his party is keen to put money on the table so planning can begin to deliver the city a regional aquatic centre. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
TweetFacebookINDEPENDENT councillorshave called for an immediate cash splashtowards the redevelopment of Lambton pool, arguing council should not wait to see if the state government’splans materialise for a new aquatic centre at Broadmeadow.
It comes after Labor backedthe Broadmeadow option ahead of Tuesday night’s meeting of Newcastle Council, where councillors will decide on a way forward for the long-overdue project.
Read more:Labor dives in with cash for pool plan
Earlier this year the state government flagged the possibility that a new aquatic centre could be built as part of its overhaul of the Broadmeadow Sports and Entertainment precinct, at an estimated cost of $40 million.
The plans are currently on public exhibition.
It would cost $30 million to redevelop the ageing facility at Lambton to an acceptable standard, and it’s understood it would not be viable to carry out both projects when the swimming centres would be less than two kilometres apart.
Councillor Kath Elliott (Independent) said there was too much uncertainty surrounding theBroadmeadow proposal to delay any longer, whileLambton pool was in dire need of an upgrade.
“We do note that the state government’s Broadmeadow sports precinct may in future include an aquatic facility, but we believe it is imperative to support the upgrade of Lambton pool rather than wait for something which may never happen,” Cr Elliott said.
“We have seen no indication that the NSW governmentwould pay for such a facility and so it would be at the ratepayers’ expense anyway.”
Read more: Councillors consider splashing out on Lambton Pool
On Tuesday night, Deputy Mayor Declan Clausen (Labor) is expected to move for$300,000 from next year’s budget to be allocated towards a comprehensive business case and detailed design for the project.
But Cr Elliott said it was time to see action on the ground, callingfor the project to be fast tracked.
“We have been told by the Interim CEO, Jeremy Bath, that the upgrade can be done in a staged approach over six years, allowing us to progress carefully and in a financially prudent way,” she said.
“[We] will be calling on councillors to vote tonight for a start date and afunding allocation in the next financial year to undertake the first stage.”
Newcastle, unlike neighbouring council areas, does not have a council-owned, year-round swim centre.
Lambton Poolis more than 50 years old and was earmarked for a majorupgrade in 2007. Howeverthe project never eventuated.
Labor has voiced ambitions for the city to host a future Commonwealth Games, and Cr Clausen said the party’s preference was that the poolbedelivered alongside other new infrastructure at Broadmeadow, especially if funding opportunities were available through the state government.
“A consolidated sports precinct at Broadmeadow would be the best regional outcome, setting the city up for the future,” he said.