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Camping discounts end after ‘strategic’ success DISCOUNT packages at some Mornington Peninsula foreshore camping grounds have been withdrawn because of their success. The mayor Cr David Gill said the cheaper packages for pre-and post-peak times were designed to “activate” Rye and Sorrento. “This activation has occurred and, to ensure both new and return campers have equal access to camping sites along the foreshore, [the discounts] have been discontinued,” he said. “For income reasons other discounts have continued in areas [such as Rosebud] that have lesser off-peak occupancy rates.” The mayor’s comments follow complaints from regular campers at Rye and Sorrento that they are being hit with site fee increases for next season while campers at Rosebud are not. (“Fee hikes make for unhappy campers” The News 10/7/19). Many families, some camping for long stays at

Rye over more than 50 years, feel they are being discriminated against by a restructuring of the fees and removal of before-and-after peak season packages. They say the fee restructure by the council equates to a 50 per cent increase. The mayor said the council was spending $7 million on the foreshore “with many improvements under way”. He said the council’s 201920 capital works budget included $550,000 for “reconfiguration works” of the Rye camping sites which will include power, water and fire service upgrades. But long-time camper Lee Conway said the capital works project would force many campers out of the Rye East camping ground. “Council is asking those campers to help fund a capital works project via increased fees for improvements which will not benefit them. How is this reasonable?” Mr Conway queried whether the council had

a strategy to “attract new campers based on increasing fees to a level where it is no longer affordable for many families to return”. “Is this how they want to turn over visitors?” he asked. “Do they prefer to attract people for short-term stays because they are slugging the repeat customers and making it unviable for families to stay for longer periods? “What is their strategy to manage a potential downturn in tourism numbers and income in the quieter pre-season and post-season periods? “Do they prefer that during October and November that these sites attract an influx of ‘schoolies’?” Mr Conway said a line item on page 57 of the council’s 2019-20 budget reading: “Foreshore camping fees off season – pre-package (return campers all locations) $300” had been dismissed

by shire officers as an “administrative error” when he queried it. “That would only be a $700 saving, but it might be the difference between someone going camping and not,” he said. The shire’s property and strategy manager Nathan Kearsley said the line was a “typo error” which should have read: All Rosebud locations. He said the cost of providing foreshore camping across Sorrento, Rye and Rosebud had a breakeven budgeted income this financial year of $3.25 million. “The overall net cost of maintaining foreshore reserves across the peninsula is in the vicinity of $7 million per annum,” he said. Cr Gill said discounted camping packages were still available for camping sites at Rosebud. “There has been no change to any of the off-peak weekly rates,” he said.

Small shovel start for big pool SMALL shovelfuls of earth last week ceremoniously marked the start of construction work on the Rosebud Aquatic Centre. No hard hats or hi vis work wear was needed when the mayor, Cr David Gill was joined by Crs Kate Roper and Antonella Celi and Nepean MP Chris Brayne to break ground for the $42 million centre. Mr Brayne noted that the project’s “long history” almost equalled his own lifespan of 25 years. The turning of the sod follows the awarding last month to Port Melbourne-based Buxton Constructions of a $39.4 million contract to build the aquatic centre. Council also agreed to an undisclosed “contingency sum”. This month the shire is looking to hire “an expert facility operator” to manage the centre. Belgravia Leisure is paid by the shire to manage and operate the Pelican Park Recreation Centre in Hastings, Mornington’s Civic Reserve Recreation Centre, the Somerville Health & Fitness Studio, Crib Point Pool and Western Port Gymnastics at the Hastings Hub. The shire says that at the Rosebud Aquatic centre it will control such business functions as asset management, utilities, maintenance, fees and charges and employment of the centre manager. The building works at Rosebud being done by Buxton include an indoor 50-metre competition pool; learn-to-swim pool; warm water program pool; aqua play/splash deck; wellness centre; and gymnasium. Other rooms include a cafe, school group and family change rooms. Cr Gill said the centre’s operator “work alongside” the shire “under a fee for service agreement”. “Council is looking for the best people to manage the facility, which is one of the biggest projects in the shire’s history,” he said. That aquatic centre will have “the maximum number of solar panels possible … whilst maintaining safe roof access and symmetry for aesthetic purposes”. The expanded solar system finally agreed to by council added an extra $423,000 to building costs. Mr Brayne said “all the praise for this project is owed to the council staff, councillors of multiple different council terms and the public who have watched this project’s long history with an unrivalled patience”. Keith Platt

Continued from Page 1 A frequent correspondent to the Letters section of this newspaper, Mr Lenzo wants tourists to help overcome financial headaches caused to the shire by state government-imposed rate capping. “If the shire would stop dickering around and tax the tourrisits [sic] as I have suggested in my many submissions on how to do it easily and without effort and high cost that would add $25 million a year to income, there would be no problem - money to burn,” he said. “Rosebud pool [could be] paid for with cash in the bank.” Mr Lenzo says the shire has never responded to or considered his submissions over the the past decade but he now “understands they are thinking of doing something which I am sure will be a half donkey result compared to my proposals”. Mr Lenzo’s premise is based on ratepayers not benefitting from tourists and, therefore, “should not pay their costs”. He said tourists were “only a big problem for six weeks and then mainly on weekends, except for Christmas, but add a lot of costs [to the shire’s budget]”. “A true accounting of the caravan parks might show they are operating at a loss and resident ratepayers are paying the bill,” Mr Lenzo said. “The shire is getting ready to put in some costly parking system in Rosebud or Rye, like in parking garages that show how many empty spaces and I think blue lights if empty.” Mr Lenzo said deducting “the real cost” of tourism from the shire budget would mean the shire “would not have to raise rates for years”.

Making a start: David Gill, Antonella Celi, Kate Roper and Chris Brayne handling shovels at the site of the planned Rosebud Aquatic Centre. Picture: Supplied

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Mornington News 16 July 2019

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Mornington News 16 July 2019