The Bass Coast Shire has signalled its intention to close the Wonthaggi Visitor Information Service which operates from the Centennial Centre later this year and the community should be outraged, not only with the decision but with the way the council has gone about it!
Consultation should occur before any decision is made, not after the event.
It smacks of complete disrespect of those who worked so hard to achieve the project for the town and the many volunteers who have worked there continuously to run the visitor information service.
The project was initiated by the Rotary Club of Wonthaggi, was funded through grants from the Federal Government Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, State Government, Bass Coast Shire Council, Rotary and the community to mark Wonthaggi’s 100th birthday.
This community hub partnership has provided terrific service in a well-planned, sustainable, low cost facility and has continued an important service to visitors to the area.
This service of dispensing information and advice to many people on places to see, enjoy and stay began in Wonthaggi in the early 1980s, over 35 years ago, and has continued ever since in various venues.
This for so many is the first contact with the area and the welcome and information received is so important to the enjoyment of their stay.
The happy, dedicated, passionate and skilled volunteers make a significant contribution, adding so much value to the service and they certainly deserve to be treated better than this.
I can appreciate their anger and disbelief when decisions are made in this manner.
These volunteers are the real ambassadors of the area, a vital component of the tourist industry and they generate significant funds through the bookings for accommodation taken through the centre.
Now with 20,000 visitors plus to the centre annually, the future of the Information Service and Centre is in question.
That equates to around 60 people a day!
Totally agree that council should always be looking for savings, improvements and efficiencies at every opportunity – that should be built firmly into its business and community planning and management.
Council has copped plenty of criticism about some of its decisions and the way these decisions have been reached and this is yet another unfortunately.
It was more than disturbing the way this decision was conveyed to the public and the lack of consultation with those who worked so hard to get the facility built in the first place and those who have worked so hard to maintain the visitor information service.
“Council will now engage with local business and the community to find a suitable use”. Definitely the wrong order here.
And in the same release on the council’s website, “additional investment in technology and staffing” will be added to the Newhaven Centre.
So where is the projected saving of $3 million over the next 10 years and what was the cost of the “independent” review that came up with this incredible recommendation?
Wonthaggi has been short changed with this disgraceful, ill-informed decision and it needs to be overturned immediately.
John Duscher, Wonthaggi.