Byron sports centre ‘haemorrhaging cash’

Staff reporters

The Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex (BRSCC) in Ewingsdale lost $300,173 last year and is critically underutilised.

The claims, which are to be tabled at this Thursday’s Byron Shire Council meeting, come from an external report on BRSCC management by SGL Consultants.

Regarding finances, the report says, ‘for every $4 of expenditure to operate facilities, only $1 in revenue is raised’. Furthermore the report’s authors say that it’s ‘unlikely that Council will attract a suitable financial return from contracting out management as the first 12 months’ operations indicated there are a significant range of business constraints’.

BRSCC opened over a year ago at a cost in excess of $17m and was a jointly funded project between the council and the federal government, which contributed $9.5m.

But the council has so far been unsuccessful in securing suitable management of the 13.27-hectare, state-of-the-art facility. Currently contract staff under the direction of the council’s society and culture division act as managers of the complex’s indoor facilities, outdoor netball/basketball courts and adjacent toilet/storage block.

Earlier this year, negotiations with the PCYC to manage the facility were terminated by Byron Council GM Ken Gainger.

And in light of the new SGL report, a new ‘direct management’ model will be now considered at the council’s next meeting. Mr Gainger said that direct management would enable Council to keep control of the facility while maximising community use. ‘In addition, new management initiatives would be introduced to reduce the current operating costs.’

‘For example, the multipurpose facility has a superb commercial kitchen.  If we retain a direct management model, Council will pursue leasing the space to a catering company that would be granted catering rights for events at the building.’

Also at this week’s ordinary meeting, Council will consider a report on the proposed Billinudgel Sportsfield. The report recommends that Council withdraw from negotiations with the landowner and consider other locations in the north of the shire.

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