Coffs Coast locals have begun to show their outrage on social media following the announcement to award the tender for all three public pools to a Newcastle company.
Many have questioned how serious the local Coffs Harbour Council are about supporting local businesses.
It comes as staff announced that the leases to run Coffs Harbour War Memorial Swimming Pool, Woolgoolga Swimming Pool and Sawtell Swimming Pool have gone to Lambton company Lane 4 Pty Ltd, trading as Lane 4 Aquatics.
In the open tender process, potential lessees were offered the option of operating one pool or more. Prior to this decision, each pool had been run by a separate operator.
In a statement, Council’s Director Business Services, Andrew Beswick said, “In assessing all the submissions, it was apparent there were extensive cost and service efficiency benefits for Council and the community by the pools being run by one operator”.
“While it would be ideal to see a local company chosen as the operator, the other tenders presented did not represent the most economic or efficient outcome”, Mr Beswick said.
According Daniel from Swimplex, one of the current Pool Lessees, he told Moffee on Triple M that during the process, they were never asked any questions at all regarding their proposal.
“We weren’t asked a single question during the process. From start to finish, not a single question, just an email on a Monday afternoon saying thanks but no thanks” he said.
One concern raised by the lessee is that at no point councillors were involved in the decision process, a statement backed up by Councillor Tegan Swan in a post on Facebook.
Councillor Swan wrote, “I encourage everyone to email and call council and let them know how you feel.”
“I'm so disappointed that we as Councillors were kept in the dark as well. I'm all for honesty and transparency especially if hard decisions are required.”
According to Council staff, the say they have been assured that the new company ‘intends to offer all current pool employees the opportunity to apply for positions within the new operations’.
With staffed required to ‘apply’ for roles within the business, this raises more questions of job security for locals who currently work at the pools.
“We should be treating our local business people with a lot more respect”, Cr Swan said.
“Just another reason I am not a fan of the current tendering process and the councillors lack of involvement in it”.
The lease periods offered for each site are:
- Coffs Harbour War Memorial Swimming Pool: Ten years with the option to extend for a further ten years.
- Sawtell Swimming Pool: Five years with the option to extend for a further five years.
- Woolgoolga Swimming Pool: Five years with the option to extend for a further five years.
The new leases begin on July 1 2017.
Listen to the full chat with Daniel from Swimplex here: