Councillors discuss sports field issues at Laurieton

The incomplete stand at Vince Inmon Oval.

PORT Macquarie-Hastings councillors Josh Slade and Adam Roberts attended Vince Inmon Oval at Laurieton on Tuesday 21 May to discuss sports ground issues with club representatives from the Camden Haven Eagles JRLFC and Laurieton Hotel Stingrays RLFC.

Issues relating to Port Macquarie-Hasting Council’s Sports Council were discussed, after concerns were expressed that smaller clubs were not being adequately represented.

Cr Josh Slade, who chairs the Sports Council, shared this sentiment.

“The smaller clubs have lost their voice,” he said.

Cr Slade said the Sports Council was formed to create “an overarching group with representatives from several sporting bodies”, with the aim to “prevent disconnection from local sporting clubs and ensure everyone is in sync”.

As a result, councillors Clade and Roberts have been engaging with clubs, ensuring “concerns from the ground level reach Council chambers”, so decisions being made are “the right ones and representing the community’s best interests”.

Jarryd ‘Kiwi’ Gaskin, representing both the Camden Haven Eagles and Laurieton Hotel Stingrays, raised several concerns with the councillors.

These included access to fields and booking processes, Council’s proposed sports ground usage fees, field drainage, and ongoing changes to the Vince Inmon Oval grandstand planning and completion date.

Council has included proposed fees for sports ground use in its 2024-25 Operational Plan.

The proposed fees would be $40 per hour for bookings up to four hours, $200 per day for bookings over four hours, or $1000 per season.

Jacob Cook, coach of the Camden Haven Eagles Under 11s and a Laurieton Public School teacher, shared concerns the proposed usage fee would “impact negatively upon what we can provide as a school”.

For years, Laurieton Public School has used the Vince Inmon fields every Friday during term for their afternoon sport sessions, at no expense to their students.

Under the proposed usage fee these costs would have to be passed onto their families.

“Port Macquarie Hastings Council has been collecting feedback on their usage fee proposal and will take onboard the voice and views of the community at the next Council meeting,” Cr Roberts said.

However, all parties present were in agreement that some contribution for the use of Council facilities was a reasonable request.

“A one-size-fits-all is not an equitable option,” Cr Roberts said.

“A more tailored approach would provide a fairer format for everyone.”

Field drainage is another area of ongoing concern impacting both rugby league and soccer clubs.

Junior fields at Laurieton have been closed since the commencement of training, which has resulted in the main playing field “taking all traffic”, Jarryd Gaskin told NOTA.

Meanwhile, club committee representatives Steve and Sue Jones told NOTA they are “extremely disappointed” over the uncompleted grandstand at Vince Inmon Oval.

Meeting attendees also described a suggestion by PMHC to relocate the canteen facilities to the rear of the stadium as being “disgraceful and irresponsible”.

“Our canteen is our hub,” Jarryd stated, arguing the current location allows easy access from the carpark for both supplies and canteen purchases by the club’s supporters and visitors.

Jarryd told NOTA the canteen is the “only source of revenue” for the Camden Haven Eagles.

This year, the football club made a decision to reduce registration fees by $50, to match the reduction in the Active Kids Vouchers.

“This decision was made by the club to keep players registered and on the field,” volunteer Nikki Dunn told NOTA.

All parties agreed moving the canteen to the rear of the stadium would significantly reduce its profitability, potentially impacting the long term playing future of the Camden Haven Eagles.

Councillors Slade and Roberts will take the information provided by the club members and present their findings at the next Council meeting.

“It is in everyone’s best interest to get everyone out on the fields,” Cr Slade said.

“The collection of this data and information gives a voice to many which was previously not being heard.”

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council was contacted for comment but did respond prior to publication.


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