At present [South Gippsland Shire] Council is stuck with managing the Port Welshpool and Yanakie Caravan Parks. These facilities cost the council budget around $1 million each year.
This year there will be minimal income as COVID-19 restrictions have severely limited the tourist activity. We are still carrying a large number of staff who have had no job for around six months. The question for council is ‘why should ratepayers continue to carry this risk’?
Over the past seven years of council involvement in the parks, it has cost ratepayers over $4 million dollars and we have little to show for that involvement.
Bass Coast Shire lease the park out at Cape Paterson. This is a simple exercise on the books – a small rental income stream but no risk. Council does not have to carry extra staff to manage a park.
There are many demands for council funds and one that is current is expansion of kinder facilities, especially at Foster.
Funds saved by not having council run the caravan parks could be used to fix the kinder problem at Foster in the first year.
Beyond that, council spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Port Welshpool Marine Structure Plan which contemplated a marina at the Port. Why not use the funds to progress that plan? At least the funds would generate some tourism activity and not be idly wasted at the caravan parks.
Lindsay Love, Secretary South Gippsland Action Group.
Editor: In an effort to keep the community better informed, we put some of Mr Love’s claims and concerns to the council. Here are the responses from Bryan Sword, Director of Development Services.
• These facilities cost the council budget around $1 million each year.
Factually incorrect. A report is presented to council each year that discloses revenue, operational expense and capital improvements.
• We are still carrying a large number of staff who have had no job for around six months.
Factually incorrect. Each park has a caretaker who is supported by contract and casual staff that are engaged as demand requires.
• Bass Coast Shire lease the park out at Cape Paterson.
South Gippsland Shire Council leases out the Waratah Bay and Korumburra caravan parks. Yanakie and Long Jetty caravan parks were returned to direct management at the time because there was no suitable lease holder after these parks were put out for Expression of Interest.
• Council spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Port Welshpool Marine Structure Plan which contemplated a Marina at the Port. Why not use the funds to progress that plan?
Factually incorrect, the project was not hundreds of thousands of dollars and it was funded by the Victorian government. The project had two distinct aims; 1. Address land-use, amenity and safety in the Port Welshpool foreshore precinct; 2. Consider a concept design for the potential for a future marina.
The marina is a concept design, it would require a full feasibility and detail design before it would be ready for an investment decision. It would be a multi-million-dollar project, that in receiving the report, council noted was for private investment to advance if there was market interest.