At the Council meeting tonight, Administrator Dick Perrson stated that the amateur swim clubs would not be required to pay new lane hire fees for the rest of this financial year, following a stalemate in negotiations between the Council and the Clubs.
It was stressed however that the matter would need to be re-addressed for the 2017-2018 financial year.
With a number of the Clubs under threat of folding, this is a welcomed, although temporary reprieve for the Clubs. Let's hope a satisfactory outcome can be reached in the new year.
Is it fair that local not-for-profit swimming clubs, which have been operating in Manly for 80 and 100 years, should be expected to pay excessive lane hire fees in addition to entry fees?
That's the debate that has caused a total stalemate between the new Northern Beaches Council and the three amateur swim clubs which use the Manly Swim Centre.
The 22 week swimming season was scheduled to start early in October, but Manly Swim Club, Manly Women's Swimming Club and the Manly Diggers Club have not been able to use their traditional home at the Manly Swim Centre Boy Charlton Pool.
The deadlock is over just how much is a fair fee for non-profit clubs to pay. The Council wants $53.00 per lane per hour, in addition to entry fees which have been estimated to tally around $80,000 annually.
The Clubs say they just can't afford it and they will probably close. They are concerned that they are been hit with huge fees because the $27.3 million indoor facility, which they don't even use, was so over budget.
In contrast, a survey of other amateur clubs using council pools elsewhere in Sydney, pay no lane hire or a nominal fee plus entry.
"This is a clear case of where the amalgamation of the three councils has not served Manly. While the former Manly Council strongly supported the amateur swimming clubs, it seems the new council is focused purely on service fees. It's Council's role to provide facilities for the community - not to price local groups out of existence", said former Councillor Candy Bingham.
It is understood that local member Mike Baird has met with the Clubs and the Council but that no solution has been found.
Meanwhile, the swimming season is well underway and the Clubs have no where to swim.
It's a disgrace.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.