ANGRY water polo and swim clubs were given short-term comfort from Albury Council on Monday night about the non-enforcement of contentious lane hire fees at pools this summer.
But the long-term introduction of the fees, which clubs fear will force them to eventually fold, remains a possibility for pool managers, Aligned Leisure, in the balance of its five-year contract.
Albury general manager Frank Zaknich confirmed lane hire fees hadn’t been ruled out by Aligned Leisure even though pool users were strongly opposed to them and were refusing to sign up to user agreements with the company owned by Richmond Football Club.
“Aligned Leisure is saying nothing is yet locked in from next year (2019-20),” Mr Zaknich said in response to questions from Cr Darren Cameron on the issue.
“Each of those foreshadowed fee increases are still (under consideration) and Aligned Leisure is still talking directly to the individual swimming and water polo clubs to work through that.
“Given the period of time, nine months before July next year, there is time to work through those issues one-on-one with those clubs.”
Previous Albury and Lavington pool managers elected not to activate the lane hire fees even though they were detailed in council’s fees and charges schedule.
Earlier, Cr Cameron had also asked whether the three companies which had bid for the cross-border pool contract, Aligned Leisure, Belgravia and YMCA had been provided with the schedule of fees and charges which showed Albury Council had a lane hire charge and whether those companies were made aware the lane hire charge wasn’t enforced by the former managers.
Mr Zaknich answered in the affirmative in both instances.
The council also issued a statement after the meeting, which in part, said: “No fee structure has been locked in for the 2019-20 season and the clubs are not bound by any agreement for future use of the pools.
“Aligned Leisure will continue to hold discussions with the clubs about future arrangements.”
Stuart Baker, a member of the O&M Aquatics Action Group, welcomed the commitment by Aligned Leisure for this summer.
“Water polo and swimming are very keen to be heavily involved in discussions going forward,” he said.
“(Lane hire fees) are in all pool contracts and generally isn’t applied unless an out of town coach needed lanes, not for their best customers.
“When you enter the pool that is the fee and that will be for future discussions.
“We don’t want to be fighting with council and Aligned and would rather co-operate, but we also don't want to be stitched up.”
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here