Misplaced abuse

CROWDY Head Surf Lifesaving Club members have been abused by members of the public about the condition of toilets near the club, according to club president, Allan Davis.

"Public perception is that the toilets are looked after by the club," Mr Davis said. "That is not the case, they are the responsibility of council."

The toilet block sits behind the surf club and its design, condition and lack of access for people with a disability has been a long-running issue for the community of people and tourists who use the facilities.

Mr Davis said the issue of disabled access should be addressed as the beach at Crowdy Head was ideal for people with a disability.

"The beach is broad and flat and we have an inflatable disabled wheelchair that is available for public use," he said.

"When you look at Black Head or Taree-Old Bar surf clubs, they have sealed carparks, good toilets and disabled access facilities, we would just like the same.

"They (the toilets) are the responsibility of council but we are not a group that seek to consistently bag council. We have written to council on several occasions with our concerns and offered to work with council in any way that may result in improved facilities.

"We know the issue is funding and so in the past we have tried to find ways to help, such as they (council) put up the money and we build it."

It is this attitude to problem-solving that has prompted the club to team with Harrington Community Action Group (HCAG) in its bid to try to secure State government funding.

HCAG shares the concerns of Mr Davis about the condition of the toilet facilities and lack of disabled access. It recently wrote to the State government seeking funding for the demolition and construction of new toilet facilities and it also wrote to the club inviting them to be involved in the HCAG campaign.

The two groups recently met to discuss working together to try to develop a concept that would best meet the needs of the broader community, disabled community and surf club.

According to HCAG spokes man, Joan Hall, a major focus of the meeting was the response of the NSW Department of Trade and Investment and Regional Infrastructure and Services to the HCAG letter.

"The timing was wonderful. We learnt that the issue would be on the meeting agenda of the Harrington Beach State Park Trust meeting in March," Ms Hall said.

"With that news it was decided at our meeting, that with a sense of urgency, we need to come up to a concept plan that we can take to that meeting."

At this stage, the two groups have agreed that the new facilities should include male and female toilets that meet current disabled access requirements, male and female change rooms and a storage facility about the size of a double garage. The plan now is to seek the services of a draftsmen.

Greater Taree City Council parks supervisor, Wayne Hull said council had identified the facility as a project in need of attention but added the "primary issue is funding. If we had the funds to allocate in that particular region, it would be a priority in terms of toilet facilities."

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