OUR SAY: Hats off to council for change of plans to pool charges

Orange City Council's decision to drop plans to introduce a $2 fee for non-swimmers to enter the Orange Aquatic Centre has been universally praised.

The idea was proposed as part of the draft budget and luckily it was quickly quashed as councillors expressed not only their own lack of support for the idea but acknowledged the public backlash against it.

It's unclear why the idea of charging people to supervise or spectate was even considered other than it standing out as an easy revenue raiser.

When the Central Western Daily posted a story about the proposal in the lead up to the budget-focused council meeting the feedback from our readers was overwhelmingly against it.

It’s no wonder it was swiftly thrown out at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday night.

In fact the council meeting had barely begun when councillors were on their feet to oppose the proposed fee.

Deputy mayor Jason Hamling said it wasn’t right to charge grandparents and parents to bring their children to learn to swim classes.

Cr Glenn Taylor made the point that not only was the fee unfair, the amount of money council would receive from it would be incidental.

Many readers also expressed concern that the fee would encourage parents and carers to leave their children unattended at the pool rather than pay the observer fee.

The simple fact of the matter is that if it costs too much to attend the pool parents won’t take their children there.

At a time when many school-age children still can’t swim, and the number of drownings in our community is alarmingly high, anything that discourages pool supervision should be shelved.

While the spectator charge may have been dropped the proposed entry fee hike of about 10 per cent for swimmers remains on the draft budget.

The draft budget is now on public exhibition for 28 days.

It’s not good enough to whinge about council and the decisions it makes.

Now is the time for any resident to have their say about any aspect of the budget.

If you are concerned about the cost of using public facilities such as the pool now is the time to speak up.

People can leave their budget comments at http://yoursay.orange.nsw.gov.au/budget-2017


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