GREATER Taree City Council will continue to consult with sporting groups throughout the area regarding the construction of a regional sporting stadium.
Chairman of council's sport and recreation committee, Cr Alan Tickle, said this in response to claims by Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead, that council refused to consider planning for a regional sports stadium when the then State minister for sport, Graham Annesley, was in the area last year (see report below).
Cr Tickle said that the plan of management for Taree Recreation Ground was adopted following wide consultation with the user groups.
"The priority was for open space facilities rather than a stadium,'' he said.
Cr Tickle said the establishment of a regional stadium at the recreation centre would mean the loss of two and possibly three grounds at the recreation ground.
"This would not have enabled council to attract the sporting events here that we have, including the State Little Athletics Championships,'' he added.
Cr Tickle pointed out the discussions with Mr Annesley took place around 12 months ago.
Mr Annesley has since resigned as sports minister and from parliament.
Cr Tickle said there was an offer of a grant to conduct a feasibility study into the construction of a stadium.
"It was not for the construction of a stadium,'' Cr Tickle emphasised.
Cr Tickle said the matter of funding for the upgrade of Taree Park was discussed with Mr Annesley.
"This was considered a priority by the community,'' he said.
However, he claims the minister showed no interest.
"We received an offer for funding for a feasibility study, but not for a project that would have resulted in improved facilities,'' he said.
Council has since received federal backing for the Taree Park improvements, which will include fencing around the park's perimeter.
Cr Tickle further pointed out that maintenance of stadiums at Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie takes a huge part in the sporting infrastructure budget for Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie-Hastings councils.
He claims this is at the detriment of maintenance of other sporting facilities, and therefore other sporting grounps in both areas.
Cr Tickle said if it was the intention of Mr Bromhead and Mr Annesley to upgrade the Jack Neal Oval at Chatham then they should have spoken to the oval's owners, Taree Leagues and Sports Club.
However, Cr Tickle added that should there be a concerted push for a regional stadium at Taree Recreation Ground then council will work with the community. This would include a review to the plan of management of the recreation ground.
"Council must take into account the impact on all sporting users before considering an undertaking,'' he said.
"We're not going to make policy on the run and that would have been the case if we'd taken up Mr Annesley's offer.''
Chance lost says Bromhead
MEMBER for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead has questioned the reasons behind the “refusal” by Greater Taree City Council to consider planning for a regional sports stadium when Graham Annesley the then NSW Sports Minister visited Taree last year.
Mr Bromhead said he had been exploring opportunities with council, obtaining State funding for “stage one of a sports complex in Taree, including plans and design work.”
“The minister was keen to explore with Taree council a regional facility in Taree that could be used by a variety of sports including soccer, hockey, athletics, cricket, rugby union and rugby league,” Mr Bromhead said. “Each of these sports is popular on the Mid North Coast and their participation rates are increasing and currently available grounds are often over used.
“Taree needs a sports stadium of regional significance to host major events such as NRL trial games, State and Australian championships and Waratah rugby trials.”