Develop Wingham

CHAIRMAN of council's sports advisory committee, Gary Stephen, has called for the Wingham Sporting Complex to be upgraded.

Mr Stephen was commenting on Friday's Manning River Times report where member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, revealed he is seeking State government funds to improve facilities at Taree's Jack Neal Oval.

Mr Bromhead hopes to secure $1.5 million for the project.

"It is great to see Mr Bromhead chasing opportunities to improve sporting facilities in our local community,'' Mr Stephen said.

"However, I think it is a shame that he is looking to upgrade a facility that is that is owned by a private club (Taree Leagues and Sports Club.) Not only is this club funded by poker machines the fact is the Jack Neal Oval is rarely used.

"The principal tenant is the Taree City Bulls Rugby League Club and they don't train at the field - they train at the Taree Recreation Centre, so effectively there are about 50 people using the ground say for 15 days per year, depending on the number of home games the club receives. If upgraded, any use of the field would have to be on a user pay basis as the club would have to maintain it.

"There is always work in kind from the users but at the end of the day it takes money to buy equipment and maintain fields. The reality is the club will ultimately charge people to use the field. It will not be a community asset.''

Mr Stephen has been involved in sports administration for more than 35 years and a member of council's sport advisory committee for more than 10.

"As such, I am very disappointed that Mr Bromhead has not spoken to our committee to see what our priorities are in regards to sporting facilities,'' he said.

"Our committee has already recommended that the Wingham Sporting Complex receive priority to upgrade the current facilities to host both regional and local sporting events. The basic infrastructure is already there and the facility is used by the large number of the community consistently.

"They also have a user pay system that is working to the benefit of the community, with minor improvements constantly being made to upgrade the dilapidated facilities.

" Also, most regional stadiums require at least two full size fields for playing and training purposes. Wingham has five full sized playing fields, while Jack Neal Oval only has the one field.

"If the Wingham Sporting Complex is upgraded to a regional facility, people will only have to drive 12 kilometres to get to a fantastic stadium.

"To put this in perspective, if you live in Coffs Harbour and at the opposite end of town, getting to their major sporting complex is also only a 15 minute drive.

"Port Macquarie Regional Stadium is used by many clubs and with correct scheduling, the Wingham Sporting Complex could also be used by multiple sporting codes.''

Mr Bromhead told the Times he will be inspecting facilities at the Wingham Sporting Complex this week.

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