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Draft Council Plan Sparks Anger

Filed under Breaking News, Council, Latest News

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff and Cr Ros Heit … urging residents to contact Council with their concerns

May 1, 2018

Reaction to the South Burnett Regional Council’s draft Sport and Recreation Plan was swift on social media on Tuesday.

The draft plan, unveiled by Council on Monday evening, includes plans to “rationalise” a number of parks and other facilities throughout the region in a bid to save money.

Included were proposals to remove playground equipment in Kumbia and Benarkin, shift the Kingaroy Youth Park to Rotary Park and close the public toilets in Hivesville.

“The Hivesville Hall was purchased for private use in early 2017 and it is recommended that the sports ground and public toilet are considered for rationalisation by Council due to limited to no use,” the consultants wrote.

They also recommended that Council “investigate the feasibility of a community bus to transport residents to larger towns to access sport, recreation, swimming pools and other services (eg. health).”

At Kumbia, the consultants recommended that the playground equipment be removed from Apex Park and to instead “liaise with the local principal to ‘activate’ (outside school hours) the opportunities available at the school for local residents”.

The Kumbia proposals met with immediate anger on Facebook:

“Many people comment on how lovely the park is in Kumbia beside the free van park. The kids have nothing in Kumbia to do and you want to take away their only playground? Kumbia folks don’t have access to even the rail trail for a safe place for kids to ride bikes. I’m so angry about this.”

“Wow how low can they get. They have just spent the money on putting soft fall and a fence. For it to be ripped out. Kids use the park regularly. Hope they are prepared for these small communities to fight back.”

“So they say kids need more exercise they need to get out n play more. How can they do this when you take away the one thing they have to play on. This is a disgusting move by the council.”

“Kumbia’s Park needs to stay!!! It is very well loved and used by the local children as well as visiting children. Many birthday parties are also held here! I can’t believe that council are even contemplating this??”

“I for one will chain myself to the fences before they take anything from our town…”

At Benarkin, the consultants also recommended the removal of playground equipment from First Settlers Park to be followed by liaison with the school for after-hours use. Benarkin residents weren’t happy, either:

“Why take away what little the kids in Benarkin have, Council does nothing for Benarkin! So BUGGER OFF & leave our park alone!”

There’s not a lot for kids at Benarkin as it is, what is the reason apart from seeing dollars going into the council coffers?”

Several commenters suggested there could be an economic impact, too, with fewer travellers stopping to stretch their legs and buy something to eat at the local shop while their children played on the equipment.

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff urged angry residents to provide feedback to the consultants and to Council.

“I agree with all of your comments. I do not support the Plan. It needs to be changed. Please contact Helen Carroll from Ross Planning on 0427-355-101 or email [email protected] and ask to fill in a feedback form. The Plan is available at the Council libraries and offices. Have a look at the back from Page 46 to 85 and check out your community. The feedback opportunity closes on May 25th.”

Cr Ros Heit agreed:

“I am totally against the proposals for Kumbia (and most of the small communities in my Division). suggested by the external ‘consultant’. I will be drafting a suggested plan of action for Kumbiaites this afternoon and emailing around. I am totally with you fighting this.”

Cr Heit told southburnett.com.au she was also particularly annoyed with the proposal to “rationalise” the Hivesville toilets.

“These were built less than two years ago for $70,000. Half paid by the community and half by Council … and (the consultant) wants to rationalise them!” Cr Heit said.

Concerns have also been expressed over the proposed relocation of the Kingaroy Youth Park.

Kingaroy Rotary Club member Ray Pitt commented that the club had had held discussions with Council several months ago over the installation of disability play equipment in the park as well as a possible future sensory garden for the sight-impaired and children with ADHD problems.

“At that meeting they were happy for our project to proceed given that it was to be funded by Rotary,” he wrote.

“We believe the two activities are not compatible when a peaceful and quiet atmosphere is aimed for.

“A skate park will take up a big area of the existing park and leave very little for expansion for the purposes of including the less-fortunate sector of our community in community activities in the South Burnett.”

southburnett.com.au also understands that the land on which the Youth Park is located is leased to Council by the Peanut Company of Australia, which means Council could not sell the block even if it was “rationalised”.


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3 Responses to Draft Council Plan Sparks Anger

  1. Bill

    Maybe if this council did not spend so much money on “consultants” there would not be such a money problem.

  2. Ratepayer - in a demographic too old for parks

    Draft plans are intended to provoke thought and longer term strategic thinking and planning. It is great to see members of the South Burnett community engaging around a few items mentioned in this one.

    However, it is hard to locate the solutions being proposed about how those facilities important to them can be maintained and replaced when they reach the end of their safe or functional life in the face of the evidence pointing to the cost vs benefit being negative in the short and long term to ratepayers. I recognise accounting formulas are not the sole basis for decisions of this nature.

    Given that the challenge facing this region is bigger than the availability of a toilet in Hivesville or Kingaroy, it is the challenge written into the document I would like to see SBRC Councillors asked to put their thoughts on paper about – “Due to South Burnett’s limited population growth, and considering Council’s financial constraints, the draft plan includes recommendations to ‘rationalise’ parks or facilities…..”.

    What is their plan for new revenue for the region to minimise the loss of things important to the individual, the small town or collective region? When the evidence is poking us in the eye about taking all steps to protect the South Burnett Council’s future financial sustainability, it would be helpful if those opposed to some aspects of a draft plan had the courage to present their alternative plan for community evaluation at the same time they are critiquing someone else’s starting point.

    It would be helpful to see an overall evaluation of the plan online, presented in a way that includes links to all the other plans it references. In the digital age, an online evaluation form for those interested, but unable to attend one on one meetings because they work, or out of the area at the time should be a minimum tool available to provide feedback.

    Ensuring the final plan/s is well balanced and able to be implemented in ways that enhances the South Burnett for the next 20 – 30 years, vs just recasting the last 50 years (said respectfully) is equally as important as a toilet and a swing occasionally used and continuing to be available to a demographic and or a location that now does not value it.

  3. Mark Luck

    The problem for council is diminishing returns from the federal government.Until we as ratepayers/electors become militant on this issue,we will continue to see services from council reduced.
    When did the street sweeper last visit your street?

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