Coffs council criticised as pool tender awarded to out-of-town contractor

By Alice Richard
Wednesday, 10 May, 2017

Coffs Harbour Council has come under fire from locals for its decision to award the tender to manage three pools to out-of-town management company Lane 4 Aquatics. Currently, the pools — at Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga and Sawtell — are managed by local operators but Lane 4 will commence operations on 1 July.

Woolgoolga Swimming Pool manager Scott Hunt and Swimplex Aquatics director Daniel Leaver, who manages the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Pool, told the Coffs Coast Advocate that the council made the decision without consulting the current operators. Hunt said he has borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars to expand and upgrade the Woolgoolga facilities.

However, Coffs Harbour Council said that the new lease arrangement will result in savings of more than $4 million.

“We completely understand that the current operators of the pools — the Hunt family, Kerri Ann McLaughlin, Mark McLaughlin and Daniel Leaver — are very disappointed that they were not successful and we can understand their distress. However, in considering tenders, we have to be independent, objective and impartial so that the process is fair to all parties — and especially to the ratepayers of the Coffs Harbour local government area,” said Mick Raby, council’s acting general manager, in a statement.

The council’s general manager awarded the tender under delegated authority, a process that does not require it to go to a council meeting for decision. Raby said that “very careful consideration was given to all the tenders council received”.

Lane 4 Aquatics will reportedly give all current pool employees the opportunity to apply for positions within the new operations.

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