PRESS RELEASE: COUNCIL BUDGET: Vital services underfunded in favour of sporting elite

Vital services underfunded in favour of sporting elite.

SYDNEY, 29 APRIL 2013: Marrickville Council’s draft budget released on Friday has underfunded vital services such as childcare centres and other community facilities in favour of an extravagant park ‘upgrade’ for two elite-grade soccer clubs. The funds earmarked equate to nearly a third of the council’s total capital expenditure on park upgrades within the entire Marrickville LGA.

Despite a desperate need for more services such as affordable childcare and renewing ageing infrastructure, Marrickville Council will be directing more than $1 million of tax-payers’ funds to lay synthetic turf at Arlington Reserve, Dulwich Hill. The Reserve, which is home to two elite-grade soccer clubs, is currently only used fourteen hours a week during the winter season. Yet, the funds earmarked for this project account for 31 per cent of the council’s total capital expenditure on park upgrades within the entire Marrickville LGA.

The decision to outlay more than $1 million of tax-payers’ funds to Arlington Reserve has failed to win a majority vote among council members. The motion, which was submitted to Council by Mayor Victor Macri in October last year, reached a divisive ‘six-for, six-against’ vote among council members in February. Following the deadlock, Mayor Macri used his casting vote to pass the motion. Local residents are concerned about the financial implications of such a move, and how the mis-management of tax-payers’ funds will impact the wider community. Local resident, Sandra Sullivan, said:

“Money that is supposed to be spent on community facilities is going towards an extravagance for two elite, all male soccer clubs. With that money, Council could build half a new child care centre, upgrade ten toilet blocks, and carry out countless other kinds of park improvements.”

Labor Councillor Emmanuel Tsardoulias, who voted for the allocation of funds to the facility, maintains that the move is in the interest of the wider community. He insists that public access to the ground won’t be compromised in favour of the soccer clubs: “The plan of management of the oval isn’t changing. It remains the same and won’t change.”

Liberal Councillor Mark Gardiner, Independent Councillor Morris Hanna, and four Greens Councillors opposed the motion to allocate such a high proportion of funds to the Reserve. They believe it is financially negligent of Council to spend more than $1 million on artificial turf in a location where it can’t be fully utilised.

The Marrickville Council Budget is now available for public consultation until 27 May. Let Council know what you think by visiting www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au. Click on ‘HAVE YOUR SAY’, and send the General Manager a letter or email.

For more information contact the Save Arlington Reserve Group:  savearlington@gmail.com

The Save Arlington Reserve Group is a non-political group formed in 2009 by residents of Dulwich Hill, NSW. Our mission is to preserve the amenity of Arlington Reserve and to ensure this park of historical value remains accessible to all the community. Arlington Reserve has hosted many sporting events over the years including rugby league and the British Empire Games in 1938 (now known as the Commonwealth Games).

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