Swim­mers await find­ings of croc au­dit be­fore head­ing back into the water

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Peter Carruthers peter.carruthers@ whit­sun­day­

THE Wil­sons Beach swim­ming en­clo­sure may have been granted a re­prieve af­ter a coun­cil back-flip on the de­ci­sion to de­mol­ish the struc­ture was an­nounced last Tues­day, but has that been enough to pla­cate an­gry res­i­dents?

Driv­ing force be­hind the cam­paign to save the swim­ming en­clo­sure and prin­ci­pal pe­ti­tioner of a ap­peal, Belinda Gater, was heart­ened by the suc­cess of the on­line mes­sage which gar­nered more than 850 sig­na­tures in two days.

How­ever she was not en­tirely sat­is­fied with the de­ci­sion made by the Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil in the wake of strong com­mu­nity crit­i­cism of a plan to get rid of the struc­ture.

“Af­ter read­ing the let­ters than had been sub­mit­ted to coun­cil I think its a case of ‘well, we want it re­moved but we are go­ing to make it a State Govern­ment prob­lem’,” she said.

Last week coun­cil re­solved to “un­der­take a com­pre­hen­sive risk assessment” of the swim­ming en­clo­sure which was dam­aged by float­ing de­bris in the wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie.

Coun­cil re­solved to re­pair the en­clo­sure if a croc­o­dile au­dit – to be con­ducted by the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Heritage – deemed swim­ming to be safe at the beach.

Coun­cil also noted “should the risk assessment as­cer­tain a level of risk un­palat­able to the state and lo­cal govern­ment the fa­cil­ity (will be) re­moved from use”.

“I was a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed by the re­sult es­pe­cially from the coun­cil­lors that stood for elec­tion on a fam­ily val­ues plat­form,” Ms Gater said.

A move to re­pair the en­clo­sure was moved by Divi­sion 3 coun­cil­lor, John Collins but was knocked back four votes to three at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing. Mayor Andrew Will­cox moved an amended mo­tion to con­duct a risk assessment of the area.

This mo­tion was passed five votes to two.

Cr Collins called for a divi­sion and voted against the amended mo­tion with Peter Ra­m­age “as we both wanted the en­clo­sure as it is now to be re­paired”.

“So now I guess it’s a wait­ing game,” he said.

“(We will) have to go through the process of ap­ply­ing for a per­mit then de­sign.

“I’m sorry. (But) I promise that I will keep the fight go­ing for the en­clo­sure,” Cr Collins wrote on Face­book in the wake of the de­ci­sion.

Ms Gater said she was “re­lieved it was not an out and out re­moval but a bit dis­ap­pointed that we now will be tied up in red tape”.


SWIM SAFE WAIT: Wil­sons and Con­way Beach res­i­dents op­posed to the re­moval of the Wil­sons Beach swim­ming en­clo­sure rally sup­port for the cause in front of the dam­aged struc­ture which has been out of ac­tion since Cy­clone Deb­bie hit in March last year.

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