Wauchope Pool will be under new management, after Port Macquarie Hastings Council awarded the pool management tender to Swimwell of Port Macquarie. Photo: Hastings Aquatics, FacebookLOCAL swimmers and swimming pool staff may miss out, following a council decision on the management of local pools.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council announced last week that Port Macquarie-based company, Swimwell Pty Ltd, has won the contract for the management and operation of all four public pools in the Port Macquarie-Hastings area.
Swimwell, which is the current contractor at Port Macquarie pool, is owned and operated by the Mullens family. Michael Mullens is a leading swim coach, best known for his tutelage of Olympian James Magnussen. The business is due to take over the public pools in Laurieton, Kendall and Wauchope from July 1.
The decision, which represents a complete reversal of the situation nearly a year ago, has hit Brad Holt hard. Brad’s company Hastings Aquatics has managed Laurieton, Kendall and Wauchope pools for a number of years. This time last year, he was the front-runner in the selection process for the management of local pools.
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” Brad said.
“We have worked really hard for the last 11 years, so to lose all that is extremely disappointing.”
Post by Facebook reaction to news Laurieton, Kendall and Wauchope Pools will no longer be managed by local company Hastings Aquatics..
The task to appoint pool management contractors has not been a simple one. When a five year tender came before the council in June last year, none of the five tenders were accepted, despite a recommendation by council staff to accept Brad Holt’s submission.
This would have left Swimwell without a pool management contract.
Instead, councillors chose to extend the existing arrangements for a further 12 months and resolved to develop comprehensive new tender documents.
At the time, Cr Trevor Sargeant said the decision provided an opportunity for some breathing space and an opportunity for interested parties to put forward new submissions. Despite the extension, only four organisations submitted tenders earlier this year, one less than during the previous selection process.
Brad Holt and the team at Hastings Aquatics said they spent many months working on their tender document to ensure it was a good fit with the needs of the community.
“The whole team has always had a strong community focus,” Brad said.
“We have built strong associations with swim clubs and coaches and invested an enormous amount in the community.”
He raised the bar in terms of aquatic fun and recreation when he installed a 50 metre slide at Wauchope pool in 2006, funded solely by his business.
The company’s track record in providing jobs, training and education to local people is something Brad is particularly proud of.
“We had an amazing team last summer,” Brad said.
Morale amongst Brad’s lifeguards, swimming teachers and coaches, fitness instructors, kiosk staff, reception attendants and grounds maintenance workers has been strong. The antics of some of them were captured online when staff from Laurieton and Kendall pools tried to outdo each other in a friendly Facebook competition. Photos of staff juggling stacks of kickboards were the source of much amusement.
Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Asset Management, Jeffery Sharp, said the council had looked at each of the pools individually to identify the best possible outcome for council and the community. He said it had been a case of reviewing the capacity and aquatic experience behind each submission, as well as proposed improvements to existing pool facilities, proposed community programs and special events and proposed financial management plans.
A new indoor pool is planned for Wauchope, along with a cafe-style kiosk and the purchase of anti-wave lane ropes. Swimwell will also install shade sails over Port Macquarie’s 25 metre and 50 metre pools by the end of the first season.
No improvements to the buildings and facilities have been identified for Laurieton and Kendall pools at this point.
Council’s media release states Swimwell will establish “land-based programs at Kendall, Laurieton and Wauchope pools by the commencement of the 2014/15 season to diversify recreational opportunities.” Exactly what those “land-based programs” entail has not yet been confirmed.
Brad’s staff say it is too early to tell what the longer term implications will be for them. Most work on a casual seasonal basis and would like to continue their careers in this field
Mr Sharp thanked all the current operators for doing a great and said Council was looking forward to continuing its positive relationship with Swimwell.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.