Surfing anguish

COFFS HARBOUR City councillors continue to agonise over the staging of the national surf lifesaving titles at Boambee Beach.

Back in May, Surf Life Saving Australia told the council in writing it had terminated the contract to stage the titles in Coffs Harbour from 2010-2012.

But the council says SLSA remains committed to negotiate their staging here at a later date.

Also, the council is seeking a longer than three-year term agreement.

After much debate at a meeting on Thursday, councillors authorised general manager Stephen Sawtell to re-negotiate an agreement with SLSA to hold the titles at Boambee Beach.

Cr Gavin Smithers, who voted against the move, was worried about the venue, and environmental issues.

He said the $15 million – to be split three ways between the council and the State and Federal governments – needed to build infrastructure for the titles should instead be spent on dredging the harbour and replenishing Park Beach.

He also said the council should 'step back and reassess' all possible venues, including Boambee Beach.

“Take a deep breath and think about things,” he said

Cr Ian Ovens, however, said the council too often 'focuses on the negatives rather than the big picture'.

He said described the titles as 'a great opportunity' for the city, with surf lifesaving one of the many surf sport events which could be staged there once the planned amenities went in.

“The city is getting a worldwide and recognised facility and for once only is paying a third of the cost,” Cr Ovens said.

Cr Ian Hogbin hoped the business community would take a bigger interest in the project, and said the council should not limit itself to the Boambee Beach venue in the negotiations.

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