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Lions play space to remain in place

A lively City of Greater Bendigo meeting last week saw councillors vote to leave the Barrack Reserve Lions play space in place.

BARBARA SUNGAILA August 27, 2014 3:04am

The Barrack Reserve Lions play space will not be moving.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, City of Greater Bendigo councillors voted 5:4 in favour of keeping it in its current location.

The issue has polarised opinion in Heathcote after an alternative site near the visitor information centre was suggested in June.

Heathcote Lions opposed the change as they believed moving the play space would create a number of problems, including splitting the park and safety concerns.

A Lions Club petition against the relocation collected 882 signatures.

Other groups, including Heathcote Tourism and Development, Heathcote playgroup and Heathcote Farmers’ Market, made submissions during the public consultation phase in favour of shifting the play space.

A report to council, by council officers, recommended moving the play space.

However Eppalock Ward councillor Rod Campbell opened debate on the issue at Wednesday’s council meeting by proposing that council ‘‘proceed promptly with the redevelop of the play space at the existing location’’.

A lively discussion followed.

Speaking against Cr Campbell’s motion, former COGB mayor Lisa Ruffell said she favoured the move.

‘‘We need to show that Heathcote is going forward,’’ she said.

Cr Mark Weragoda cited proximity to the pool, food outlets, toilets and visitor information centre as important reasons to support a move.

‘‘It will encourage greater use and it will be more convenient for parents of young children,’’ he said.

Cr Peter Cox said moving the play space was not a step forward.

‘‘I’m amazed with the discussion,’’ he said.

‘‘If you look at the map, the current (play space) area is twice the size of the alternative area.

‘‘We are expecting Heathcote to grow aren’t we?’’

He said the cost of fencing the site near the visitor centre was a concern.

‘‘If we’re going to spend $25,000 on fencing the new area it’s less play equipment,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m fairly pragmatic about these issues and it’s how well we spend money.

‘‘In Heathcote we just need to go out and buy equipment for the children to use.

‘‘Looking forward to the future, it’s a larger space, let’s modernise as the restaurants might be doing, the cafes in Heathcote, let’s modernise the playground.’’

At the close of debate, Cr Campbell summed up.

‘‘I know, as a person who has been around Heathcote for a number of years, what those people want and they want playground equipment and they want it in the old play space and they want it now,’’ he said.

Councillors Campbell, Cox, Chapman, Leach and Lyons voted against moving the play space.

The council report into the play space is in the meeting papers for August 20 and can be found at www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/About—us/The—Council/Council—meeting—agendas—and—minutes

Last week’s McIvor Times indicated this matter would be discussed at the COGB meeting on September 10, which was the original timeframe, however it was brought forward on a motion at July’s meeting.

The McIvor Times apologises for any inconvenience.

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