BALLARAT City Council has defended its response to Howitt Street Leisure Centre safety issues over the past five years.
The council was criticised by the centre’s owner Colin Lindsay yesterday in an interview on ABC Radio as “bureaucracy at its worst”.
Mr Lindsay also said the decision to close the centre more than two weeks ago due to fire safety risk was an “over reaction” by the council in response to an “over the top” CFA report.
The Courier revealed yesterday the council had safety concerns about the complex since July, 2008, with the centre not passing four inspections and being issued several building orders and notices.
Confidential documents also showed Mr Lindsay had received several phone calls and letters from the council regarding the centre’s safety.
However, Mr Lindsay told ABC Radio yesterday he had not corresponded with the council since 2009.
Mr Lindsay did not respond to The Courier’s phone calls yesterday following his radio interview.
The council’s chief executive officer, Anthony Schinck, said regular attempts to contact Mr Lindsay had been made in 2009, 2010, 2012 and earlier this year.
He said they included registered letters, Section 230 letters, building notices, phone calls and an on-site meeting in May last year.
Mr Schink said the council was working as quickly as possible with the owner, a fire engineer and tenants to do what was necessary to meet the minimum requirements and get the building reoccupied.
“The fire engineer has outlined an extensive list of short-term and long-term works required, some very serious indeed,” he said.
“Based on that report, the City of Ballarat has provided advice to the owner and the tenants on the minimum works required for us to be satisfied that the building is safe enough for the Emergency Order to be lifted and businesses re-opened.”