In what promises to be a dangerously hot summer, MidCoast Council has announced it may be closing many pools in the electorate.

Wingham Memorial Pool which has survived several threats from Council to close it, is on the chopping block again.

Seven years ago it was given a death sentence when council announced it had to replace the Cedar Party Bridge which would affect the pool.

It’s an old pool supported by the community who were up in arms at losing it. A petition to save it it had 3,276 signatures, 92% of the adult voting population of Wingham at the time which is overwhelming public support.

Due to Council’s fluffing around and despite calling for, but ignoring, community suggestions, nothing has happened. Cr Peter Epov’s idea of buying the bowling club land and constructing the bridge on the southern side of the existing bridge to save the Wingham pool was feasible but knocked back.

The government refused to fund a new pool.

So far some of the many council recommendations are :

-All outdoor pools will be closed during the middle of the day, but there are no details of the proposed closing times.

-the Gloucester pool will continue to be managed by council’s staff despite that pool having a safety rating score of 74% which is below the YMCA pools at Forster (98%), Taree (96%)Wingham (93%) Tea Gardens (84%).

Council has earmarked the Krambach pool for closure and that the Wingham pool will only receive minimum maintenance and will eventually close.

All councils in NSW have the same issues with their swimming pools. Our council will be holding their so called conversation with the various communities who need to tell council their pool is an important part of life particularly in small communities and these pools are part of council’s community service obligations.

Cedar Party Bridge

At present it seems council doesn’t know what to do. After the community consultation over replacing the Wingham Cedar Party Bridge and pool closure seven years ago, designs for the bridge were based on building the new bridge in situ, but after making an announcement all went quiet.

Seems the original bridge designs were of a poor quality and had to be done again, perhaps because the design brief was incorrect, but whatever the reason, council must have spent several million dollars on this project and still do not have a preferred tenderer.   Because of the stuffing around by council, costs have escalated and so who knows what the final cost on the project will be.

Whatever it is Council most likely don’t have the budget now. Negotiating with tenders at this stage is a retrograde step as the companies are aware they’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to the final cost.

Threats to close the Wingham Memorial Pool will be remembered by the community come the next council election!

This seems typical of this council; it can waste millions on the Forster Civic Precinct but cannot afford to run its swimming pools. We have bloated council departments (off limits for expenditure cuts) and apparently a computer system that is sucking up money like a vacuum cleaner. 

On face value this appears to be an attack on the people of Wingham and they should let council know how they feel. Perhaps the Wingham pool will be closed before the bridge is built, but it looks like Wingham will miss out again.


NB.  At the MidCoast Council Meeting 25 October 2023, following significant public outrage across the entire LGA to Council Staff’s recommendations to terminate subsidies and support for a number of community pools in inland locations, the eight Councillors brave enough to attend the meeting, voted unanimously to reject the bulk of the proposals.  The Staff recommendations included closure of the Krambach, handing over pools in Wingham, Stroud, Bulahdelah, and Tea Gardens to either smaller operators or community groups.  Council will now consult with each individual community that may be impacted, however, given past experience Council’s consultation will be structured to achieve their desired objectives, which often are not those of the community. The community needs to remain vigilant as this might be the first of a fifteen round struggle.

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