The State Government has stepped in for the second time, and will now cover all costs to ensure the Coober Pedy Swimming Pool remains open.
This financial support from the State Government will remain in place until June 2018 giving the families of Coober Pedy assurance that there will be consistency for the remainder of the current swimming season and the entire swimming season of 2017/18.
The pool is used by both school students and other members of the local community.
“The Coober Pedy District Council – which previously provided some funding – is no longer paying any maintenance or operational costs and refusing to come to the table,” said a spokesperson for the State Government.
Previously there was an agreement between Council and the Department for Education and Child Development which involved the Council paying an annual license fee, utility costs, shared costs regarding damage and repairs and the cleaning of the pool.
Under the new arrangements, the State Government will provide the local school funding to keep the pool open – including outside of school hours to June 2018 when arrangements will be reviewed.
Minister for Education and Child Development Hon Susan Close MP said, “It’s extremely disappointing the Council has opted out of supporting the Coober Pedy Swimming Pool. It is a community hub and vitally important for the local children and other members of the community including people that use the pool for rehabilitation.”
“The State Government wants to ensure the pool remains open and that’s why we are funding all upkeep, maintenance and cleaning costs.”
“We will also continue to ensure appropriately qualified staff are able to supervise students using the pool during school hours and during those hours of community use.”
Member for Giles Eddie Hughes said, “Our priority all along has been to ensure that the Coober Pedy community has access to the pool. We stepped in to ensure the pool was open during the summer school holidays and we did so without any support from the Coober Pedy Council.”
“We have bent over backwards to negotiate a fair deal with the Coober Pedy Council and offered to pick up all of the recurrent costs plus coverage of supervision during school hours.”
“The only expectation we had of the Council would be that they cover supervision costs for community use outside of school hours.”
“The Council’s lack of support for their own community is extremely disappointing and the community should not have to pay the price for that lack of support.”
“We will do the right thing by the community and pick up all of the costs.”
“Nearly every pool is South Australia is supported out of Council rates and user fees and the failure of the Coober Pedy Council to provide even minimal support reflects badly on the Council.”
One day before the pool opened (this week) the Council released the following statement on Facebook with a request to “Please pass on this information to other people.” “DCCP informs the public the Coober Pedy Swimming Pool will remain open to the public, until 31st March 2017. Negotiations for a long term agreement with the Department for Education and Child Development are ongoing.”
Local Coober Pedy business owner George Russell who owns and operates the Oasis Tourist Park, said he had been inundated with people wanting to use the pool in the park, in case the school pool did not open to the general community earlier this week.
“I’m very grateful that the State Government has stepped in to alleviate the anxiety of the families in town over the council’s inability or unwillingness to provide important services to our community ,” he said.
“We are still looking at a few months of extremely hot weather and the pool is the only relief available to the residents,” said Mr Russell.
“Personally I feel that the council has let us all down. Where is the money that was budgeted for the pool? It seems pretty obvious to me that services to the community are last on their list. Look at the state of our roads since the last rain, and communications on any matters are virtually zero.”
“In my opinion the council has lost it’s direction and many of us would welcome further intervention by the State Government,” he said.