Sports centres ‘talks are not negotiations’


QUESTIONS over negotiations between Mornington Peninsula Shire and a Frankston Council-established company to possibly outsource the management of peninsula sports centres remain unanswered, despite the shire pouring cold water on any such plans.

The shire posted a statement on its Facebook page last week but did not answer several questions for the second week in succession about talks with Peninsula Leisure Pty Ltd to manage Pelican Park Recreation Centre in Hastings, the Crib Point Pool, Civic Reserve Recreation Centre in Mornington and the Somerville Recreation and Community Centre (“Sports ‘in the swim’”, The News 16/5/17).

Peninsula Leisure, the company owned by Frankston Council which operates the Peninsula Aquatic Recreation Centre (PARC) in Frankston and the Pines Forest Aquatic Centre in Frankston North, expressed an interest in running sports and recreation centres on the peninsula as part of “a request for proposal process” by the shire late last year.

“A front page story in today’s Mornington Peninsula News stated that ‘a company set up by Frankston Council to manage swim centres has been negotiating with Mornington Peninsula Shire council to take over management of peninsula sports centres’,” a shire statement on Facebook said.

“Our CEO Carl Cowie has confirmed that there is no truth to this story. The shire has not nor is it now negotiating with Peninsula Leisure Pty Ltd to assume management of peninsula recreation centres.

“The shire did undertake a request for proposal process last year with several sports centre management groups submitting responses, but no decisions were made to proceed.”

Shire communications manager Mark Kestigian contacted The News to demand a retraction and insist talks are not negotiations. He said he could not answer questions about the request for proposal process “for commercial-in-confidence reasons”.

“We did let people in to come and kick the tyres,” Mr Kestigian said.

It is understood that Belgravia Leisure also notified the shire of its interest in managing shire sports centres.

Belgravia Leisure manages about “100 aquatic, sport, health and wellness facilities across Australia and New Zealand” according to its website, “partnering with over 40 local government and state government authorities”.

Belgravia Leisure did not respond to questions about any interest in operating shire sports centres before publication deadline.

Frankston Council CEO Dennis Hovenden and PARC CEO Tim Gledhill have also not answered questions about Peninsula Leisure’s finances and any remuneration paid to Peninsula Leisure’s board of directors.

Frankston Council’s 2016-17 annual budget shows directors fees (PARC) were budgeted at $352,000 over 12 months.

The directors of Peninsula Leisure are – chair Roseanne Healy, also a director on several South Australia boards; remuneration and reward committee chair Barbara Crook; strategy and marketing committee chair David Shilbury; audit and risk committee chair Simon Allatson and Phillip Johnson, chief financial officer of South East Water.

Questions about full financial accounts for Peninsula Leisure have not been answered, but consolidated figures within Frankston Council’s annual accounts show Frankston aquatic centres made a $462,000 “loss” in 2016-17 and are expected to make a $136,000 “profit” in 2017-18.

Frankston councillors will discuss a confidential agenda item called “Peninsula Leisure Core Obligations” on Monday evening (22 May) after May’s public council meeting.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 23 May 2017


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