Sports field fee plan unpopular

By EMMA CORNFORD

A CLARENCE Valley Council plan to introduce a standardised system of sportsground fees across the Valley has failed to garner support.

Councillors could not agree on the recommendation put forward by the engineering department on Tuesday's meeting, which would result in a review of the fees currently paid by sportsground users and the introduction of a fee system.

While mayor Ian Tiley said there were more urgent things for the council to concentrate on, councillor Gulaptis was hesitant to commit to $20,000 to employ a contractor and find out which fees were being paid where.

"I don't think we should be spending that $20,000 on a consultant -- we should be spending it on the sporting fields," Cr Gulaptis said.

"To spend that money otherwise would amount to a real slap in the face for all of those people playing sports in the lower river."

Cr Doug Mackenzie said the issue had 'real potential' to damage the council and cause 'tremendous disunity' throughout the Valley.

"It's important to remember the volunteers. They will resent having to pay fees for fields that they have been working on, and I can tell you that if we did do that then volunteers would desert the fields in droves," he said.

"They like the present system and for many years it has worked so I oppose everything that has been put forward today."

But Cr Shirley Adams highlighted the former Grafton City Council's system of sportsground fees and said it had helped to maintain grounds at an 'A1' level.

"It is so important. Yes, every sporting ground has volunteers and they work their guts out to make them the best they can, but I think it would be bad leaving this issue for two years," Cr Adams said.

"I think sporting groups are strong throughout the area and we might lose votes (by implementing a fees system) but I don't think that's the issue. We need to get in there, sort it out and just do it."



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