Pool backflip possible

How Allora's public swimming pool will be operated come the start of next swim season remains uncertain. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Jeremy Cook

A decision to reject a bid from a long term swim coach to continue managing Allora’s public swimming pool could be reviewed, Southern Downs Mayor Melissa Hamilton has suggested.

In a post to the pool’s social media page last Friday, Allora Swim Club coach Andrew Fidge, who has managed operations at the pool for six years, said his bid to stay on as operator had been “unsuccessful”.

“[Southern Downs Regional Council] has indicated that I have been unsuccessful in my tender for Allora pool,” Mr Fidge wrote.

“I wish everyone the best in their future swimming.

“I am so sorry to share this news. I did try my best.”

It is understood Mr Fidge was informed by the council last year that his contract with the pool would not be extended come the end of the current agreement.

The council later sought tender applications for the operational management of the pool in November.

A council spokeswoman said that decision had been made to reduce the “financial burden” of running council-owned pools on the broader community.

“Council is moving to a model whereby there is more accountability and responsibility for the pool operations on the contracted operator,” the spokeswoman said.

“Currently, council pays the contractor a fee and also covers the operational expenditures including materials, with the contractor retaining all the revenue,” she said.

“As such, the true cost of these contracts has never been fully transparent.”

In a statement on Saturday, Mayor Hamilton said Mr Fidge will remain the pool’s operator until winter recess, but councillors had requested a full briefing of the issue from council officers.

“Mr Fidge is very well respected in the Allora community, and many people in the community have contacted council with their concerns about the arrangements for the 2024-2025 season at the Allora Pool,” Cr Hamilton said.

“We, as councillors, are listening to the community and have asked the council staff to fully brief us on the proposal as it stands.

“The new season commences in September 2024, and this gives us ample time to consider whether we should review the decision of the previous council.

“We will keep the community updated on this matter and will endeavor to ensure that any review is completed in May to give certainty to both Andrew Fidge and the Allora community.”

In response to questions sent by Warwick Stanthorpe Today, a council spokeswoman said Mr Fidge’s initial bid to retain management of the pool had been “well above council’s budget capacity”.

“Negotiations then ensued with the contractor seeking to operate the pool under the existing arrangement whereby council would continue to cover all the operational expenditures,” the spokeswoman said.

“As this process has now closed, no other offers are currently being considered.

“Council will receive a comprehensive briefing on this matter in the near future.”