Tidal Pool for Port Macquarie group facing new obstacle

Upset: Tidal Pool for Port Macquarie supporter Kathryn Butler. Photo: Ivan Sajko
Upset: Tidal Pool for Port Macquarie supporter Kathryn Butler. Photo: Ivan Sajko

Cr Rob Turner says he is not opposed to a tidal pool for Port Macquarie despite lodging a notice of alteration to state that it is not a priority for council.

Cr Turner, along with Crs Mike Cusato and Geoff Hawkins, signed the notice of alteration which is on the agenda for council’s Wednesday May 16 meeting.

The councillor says the notice is intended to clarify council's position on the tidal pool and to ensure there is no precedent set in relation to other community groups' projects.

Council also decided to seek advice about what information Crown Lands would require from the committee to be able to consider a decision to grant landowner’s consent. 

But Cr Turner's five-point motion has upset Tidal Pool for Port Macquarie driving force Kathryn Butler.

Ms Butler said she did not agree with Cr Turner's notice, particularly the final point which “encourage(s) the Port Macquarie Tidal Pool Committee Incorporated to make any future requests, submissions and grant applications through council’s recognised engagement processes to ensure that the competing priorities of all volunteer and community groups in our area receive appropriate and equal consideration by council”.

"That (point 5) really gets on my goat," she said.

"Not only does this notice to alter hurt us, but it also hurts the thousands of residents of the Port Macquarie-Hastings who are supporting, and relying on, planning for a tidal pool progressing.

"There were 18,000 signatures on our petitions. We are quite upset about it.

"A lot of people are expressing their disappointment at this latest move. We are getting very supportive comments on our Facebook page. They are upset that council is doing this."

Cr Turner said he was 'a bit uneasy' about supporting the original motion.

"I just thought the previous motion was not clear enough as to what council's position is," he said.

The councillor said the adopted motion could send a mixed message to community groups who would expect the same level of assistance in requesting state government help.

"We need to be careful about setting a precedent," he said.

Cr Turner said he was not opposed to a tidal pool but wanted the matter considered in the normal council processes.

"This is not stopping the tidal pool group from going direct to the state government," he said.

"We already have four swimming pools and we don't need to go down the path of a fifth."

Ms Butler said the group had been going through the right processes at all times.

"We are not receiving privileged treatment," she said. "It is absolute rubbish that we have not followed council processes.

"Our group submitted the petition twice. We have addressed the issue with the former mayor (Peter Besseling) and our current mayor (Peta Pinson).

"What I hope to see is that the councillors have the integrity to not support these alterations.”

Ms Butler said Port Macquarie's population is sufficient to support two very different public pools - a tidal pool and an aquatic centre.

Members of the Tidal Pool for Port Macquarie group will attend Wednesday night's meeting.

The Crown is the landowner in this case.