THE COMMUNITY backlash against the dumping of the Maclean Swimming Pool contractors has spread beyond the borders of the Clarence Valley.
An organiser of a rally in support of the pool contractors John and Robyn Clarke, who have run the pool for 39 years, said former residents from interstate will attend the rally in Cameron Park, Maclean, on Saturday afternoon.
Rally organiser Belinda Cameron said the event will give Maclean a chance to have a say on an issue that clearly means a lot to the community.
Ms Cameron has also started an online petition at change.org, titled Rethink the Maclean Pool Tender.
At last Tuesday's Clarence Valley Council meeting councillors voted to accept a tender from Glenreagh pool contractor Valley Pool Services, which came in under the Clarkes' bid.
Mrs Clarke said she and John had been humbled by the support of the community.
"Normally they only say nice things about you after you're dead," she said. "We've been looking at the things people have been writing on Facebook and I've got to say we're feeling a little bit loved.
"Tomorrow night I'll sit down and write something to thank them. It will be basic and brief."
The Clarkes said they had still not received a call from the council to officially inform them of the decision.
She said they have decided not to fight the decision, but will see where the wave of public support takes them.
Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said the reaction of the public to the granting of the lease showed how much people appreciated the work of the former lessees, but also showed a lack of understanding of the competitive tendering process.
Councillor Williamson said councillors only had positive things to say about the Clarkes and were thankful for the great work they had done over such a long period.
"But ratepayers expect us to spend our money efficiently, and in the case of swimming pool management, that means putting these contracts out to tender," he said.
"We are told repeatedly in our community consultation that people want things done as efficiently as possible.
"And that's what we have done here. We have chosen the most competitive tender via a competitive tendering process. These types of decisions are always difficult for councillors.
"I appreciate too that it is difficult for members of the public to get the full picture. Because the tender documents of the unsuccessful applicants have to be kept confidential, it is difficult for members of the public to get the full information.
"I can say, though, there is a considerable cost saving for ratepayers going with the tender we have accepted."
Council general manager, Scott Greensill, said operating swimming pools was an important function of the council, but with public pools in Yamba, Maclean, Ulmarra, Grafton, South Grafton and Glenreagh, it was a heavy drain on ratepayers.
"The community has told us it wants to keep each of these pools open, so we are obliged to find the most cost-effective way of doing it," he said.
"The tender process is fair and transparent.
"We have been through that process and councillors awarded the contract to the applicant they thought offered best value for money.
"People should be pre
pared to give them a chance. Valley Pool Services is a local company that operates the Glenreagh and 25m Orara Valley pool at Nana Glen.
"I've seen some comments from people saying they won't use the pool because of who won the tender. That appears to be an attempt to punish the new operators simply because they were successful."
Open tenders were called on May 27, 2014, and closed on June 24, 2014, in accordance with Local Government (General) Regulation 2005.
Three businesses, all from within the Clarence Valley Council area, submitted tender documents.
A tender evaluation committee comprising of three council officers met on June 25 and determined all applicants met the tender requirements.
The tenders were assessed on a price: non-price criteria on a 60:40 basis, as per the tender conditions.
Non-price criteria were considered first and Valley Pool Services scored the highest.
Valley Pool Services was also the lowest price.
The tender evaluation committee prepared a report to councillors to be considered at their committee meeting on July 8. That report included commercial-in-confidence attachments for councillors to compare prices.
On July 15 the full council voted 8-1 to accept the tender from Valley Pool Services.