Former Ballarat mayor John Barnes backs up James Coghlan's view on pool

ANOTHER former mayor of Ballarat has criticised the council for its handling of last-minute changes to the design of the new 50m pool.

John Barnes has followed James Coghlan in questioning the council’s process after it voted to alter the depth of the pool this week on the same day construction was due to start.

“Like James, I too share concerns about the poor governance over the depth of the new 50m pool,” he said in a letter to the editor published in today’s edition of The Courier.

Mr Barnes said he was concerned the council voted against the advice of an advisory committee for the project, and that none of the five councillors who voted to make the change were on the committee.

“While council has every right to make a decision other than one recommended by an advisory committee, it needs very good reasons why it goes against their considered advice,” he said.

“After all, they are the ones who have sat through the countless meetings and detailed briefings on every aspect of the project. They know the risks. They know what will work and what won’t.

“Why would anyone give time and effort to going on an advisory committee when its almost unanimous views are so readily ignored?” 

Mr Barnes also questioned the motives behind the decision to change the depth.

“I hope this is not a case of a group of councillors conspiring to go through the motions, but do what they intended all along,” he said.

“Even more disturbing if this is a case of councillors trading votes on this issue to share the spoils of office amongst themselves on all the big issues.

“The present mayor and past are amongst the five (who voted in favour of the change). So too is the past mayor’s deputy. I wonder whether the next mayor is also. And maybe the mayor after that too.

“Coincidentally, all five just happen to belong to the same political party.” 

The comments follow criticism last week from Mr Coghlan who knocked the council for leaving the decision to the last minute.

“I think it’s absurd and particularly unfathomable that they would look to review these specs now,” he said.

“They have clearly decided to do this as a result of discussions that happened behind closed doors.”

andrew.ramadge@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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