Redland City Council funding for Donald Simpson Centre should stay, says petitioner

PETITIONER: Resident Debra Swain says she has had 700 people sign her petition to have Redland City Council funding restored to the Donald Simpson Centre. Council says the centre has received more than $1 million in funding.
PETITIONER: Resident Debra Swain says she has had 700 people sign her petition to have Redland City Council funding restored to the Donald Simpson Centre. Council says the centre has received more than $1 million in funding.

RESIDENTS have launched a petition as part of a campaign to fight council plans to cut funding to the Donald Simpson Centre.

The Redland City Council will end all operational funding from June next year.

Centre supporters say this will result in increases in membership fees and charges to low-income residents.

In May Redland City Council announced that it would cut operational funding to the centre next year after halving its contribution from $100,000 in the next financial year.

It will continue annual maintenance work to the value of $60,000 and waive rent. The decision will see the centre’s total income slashed by 28 per cent.

Petition organiser Debra Swain said the move would have a serious economic impact on centre activities and information programs.

Petitioners wanted the council to reverse its decision of a reduction to $50,000 for 2017-18 and to zero in 2018-19 as part of its budget deliberations.

“Not maintaining council funding will result in increases in fees and charges to the low income community,” she said. “(This is) not what the former shire clerk of whom the centre and parkland is named would have thought would happen.”

Donald Simpson was a shire clerk from 1963 to 1978. He also served on community groups. He died in 1981.

Mayor Karen Williams said council made the decision to ensure community groups were funded fairly and equitably.

“Over the past 30 years, the centre has received more than $1 million dollars in council funding for infrastructure and services,’’ she said. “...No other local community group has received this level of financial assistance from ratepayers.

“I met with the Donald Simpson Centre on Friday... They acknowledged the large amount of financial support council has provided.

“...They also indicated that they had identified other opportunities to raise revenue through sponsorship and grants which will ensure they remain sustainable, allowing them to keep delivering the activities and services our seniors enjoy without having to rely so heavily on financial contributions from Redlands’ ratepayers.”

Cr Williams said council would continue to underwrite the centre's nominal rent and maintenance costs.

“It is important to remember that council has not cut funding to the senior sector, the funds that have been part of the support provided to the Donald Simpson Centre will be reinvested into a new age friendly communities program to support our city's ageing population.”

Ms Swain said 1433 had signed the petition and a cut in funding was virtually retribution for the good management and financial prudence of the centre.