I am dismayed by the decision the South Gippsland Shire administrators voted on at the September council meeting not to approve the South Gippsland Equestrian and Exhibition Centre.
The vote was made on information in a seriously flawed draft feasibility study.
There were many errors in the study, some of the major ones were:
1. Bennison Adult Riding Club, one of the biggest equestrian clubs in the South Gippsland Shire, was not mentioned in the report, and therefore not questioned at all about usage, etc.
2. I believe the administrators assumed it was to be shire funded. That was never the case; there had been funds virtually assured from the Federal Government, it just needed the shire to apply for it on our behalf.
3. The administrators also assumed it would be shire run. There were several options available, including local club volunteers.
4. No non-equestrian usage figures were included in the feasibility plan. There were several groups that had shown great support and said they would use it if built. It was to be a multipurpose venue for everyone!
5. The centre was quoted to cost between $3 million and $4 million to build. We believe it didn’t need everything stated in the study immediately and an excellent venue could be built for around $2 million.
The feasibility study was dated 24/07/19. It was not made public by the shire until 18/9/19, exactly eight weeks later – why?
Was it so it could be quashed, unopposed? It gave very little time for anyone to put their case forward.
A 2016 economic impact statement suggested for every $1 spent on the Centre approximately $6 would be returned to the community. How wonderful it would be for local business attracting money from outside the shire. Why wasn’t this taken into account?
The shire administrators stated it would cost the shire $100,000 annually to run; however the profit and loss figures in the feasibility study said there would be a first-year loss of between $10 and $10,000. We would like to know where the extra 0 came from.
How can such a major decision be made on such flawed data? And by only two voting administrators no less.
Carolyn DeGaris, President Stony Creek Racecourse and Recreation Reserve, DC Meeniyan Pony Club.