Move to restore Redland City Council Donald Simpson Centre funding fails

FUNDING FIGHT: Cr Lance Hewlett wants funding restored to the Donald Simpson Community Centre.

FUNDING FIGHT: Cr Lance Hewlett wants funding restored to the Donald Simpson Community Centre.

CR Lance Hewlett has unsuccessfully moved to have Donald Simpson Community Centre funding reinstated to a total of $100,000 a year.

He sought to change an earlier ruling not to extend funding by bringing forward the item as urgent business.

Acting mayor Wendy Boglary said councillors rejected this on the grounds that the matter was not urgent and should be determined during budget discussions like other funding issues.

This meant the move to restore funding was blocked before it could be voted on.

Cr Hewlett sought that the $100,000 annual funding remain in place until council set up – in collaboration with the centre – a mutually agreed financial strategy that fully supported and subsidised the function, activities and services of the centre in perpetuity.

Council decided to cut funding in May in a bid to spread funds more widely through the community to the young and people with disabilities but has copped stiff opposition from centre members.

Council argues that over the past 30 years, the centre has received more than $1 million in funding for infrastructure and services.

In that time, demand has increased from other sectors, like those with disabilities.

Cr Hewlett said the centre had 55,000 visitors a year and was a vital piece of community and social infrastructure.

“With five retirement villages in my division, I am constantly approached by individuals that are dismayed by the decision by council to cut funding to zero by 2018,” he said.

“Although membership fees have not yet  increased, activity costs to members have increased by 25 per cent and the cost of attendance to the regular shows and performances has also increased.

“I personally know of a couple of pensioners that cannot afford to attend their weekly activity any longer because they are on such tight budgets.”

Cr Hewlett said council should go back to the original funding model and work with the centre to monitor sustainability.

He said the $100,000 funding was miniscule in council’s budget and was about the cost of resurfacing an average local road.

“As far as value for money, the Donald Simpson Centre punches well above its weight in providing a range of wonderful  social activities for our ageing demographic, which continues to increase.

“Redland’s candidate for the state election, Kim Richards, has also just started an online petition to garner financial support from all levels of government for the DSC which I understand is gaining momentum at a rapid rate.”

Cr Hewlett said he saw his role as that of a community advocate and his community was clear about what it wanted at the centre.

Council voted against continuing centre funding but nominal rent and maintenance costs of about $160,000 a year would be picked up by ratepayers.

With more than 48,000 residents aged over 50 in Redlands, the centre caters for about five per cent of this population.