It is difficult to know what Debra Wales is on about, in her submission to the CCCPI (“Questions raised about use of Council venues”, PP 030).
Apart from the fact that the subject matter seems far removed from the concerns of the Inquiry, the example of one venue where, she seems to feel, Council is not charging a profitable fee for the premises hardly suggests that the Council is generally “missing an opportunity to place the venues to better use without the need for ‘middlemen’”.
Clearly, she has some bee in her bonnet about one of the users of the Ettalong Beach facility and is trying to conflate this with a broad complaint about the Council’s management of community facilities and the use of ‘middlemen’ (whatever they are).
The fundamental feature of community facilities is that they are for the use of the community.
Very few community organisations can afford commercial fees and conditions for the use of venues, so the only important question is whether they provide a worthwhile service to the community and how much we want to subsidise them.
If a registered charity gets favourable terms from the Council, that hardly seems cause for concern, unless we are adamantly opposed to the purpose of the charity.
We heavily subsidise other activities that some of us might think far from worthwhile, but that is the community’s choice.
The idea that the Council has “not clarified this inconsistency” would carry more weight if she could explain exactly what this inconsistency is.
If Ms Wales is suggesting that all community venues should be put on the same management footing as the Wyong Art House theatre, I, for one, should be vehemently opposed.
The Council’s policy for this facility has forced out the Wyong Drama Group that was housed in the original building for decades and was the main user of the space, so it would be interesting to know what level of utilisation the theatre now achieves, under the new regime.
If the Laycock Street Theatre and the Peninsula Theatre were to be brought under the same management umbrella (which seems to be what Ms Wales is advocating), the Gosford Musical Society and the Woy Woy Little Theatre would certainly have to fold up their tents and steal silently away.
I feel that would be a loss to Central Coast.
Of course, it might be that Ms Wales is simply trying to generate some publicity for a tilt at a Council seat next year.
As a former Gosford City Councillor, she will have a large handicap to overcome.
Email, Oct 10
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy