Mediator brought in to tackle showgrounds horse row
A FRASER Coast councillor says he plans to bring in a professional mediator from Brisbane to address concerns about the management of the Maryborough Showgrounds and Equestrian Park.
Darren Everard, who holds the events, sport and recreation portfolio, has been in talks with up to a dozen disgruntled equestrian clubs since they approached him earlier this year.
He said their main concern was the availability of the facilities - which several clubs helped fund and build - and in particular that they were closed for more than six months this year to accommodate major events such as the Ulysses annual general meeting and Scout Jamboree.
"We've got to look at how it's managed," he said.
"When the (showgrounds) are hired out for events, it shouldn't be done as a whole.
"I know if I was paying top dollar to use a facility, I'd want exclusive access to it."
Other concerns included "outrageous" user fees, bookings supposedly in favour of one particular discipline, the campdraft arena "never open for cattle events" and stable maintenance.
"This equestrian facility only came to fruition after local groups and horse enthusiasts banded together and, along with fundraising, grants and hard work, developed the centre," a representative of Team Penning Fraser Coast said.
"It is disappointing to say the least that equestrian community is no longer able to have a say in its management or use."
Cr Everard said although he believed some of the complaints presented to him were fictional, there were a few issues the council needed to address.
He said he planned to get the clubs together with council staff and mediator Leisa Donlan from Brisbane-based business Committee, which specialised in workshops for community and sporting groups.
- The covered arena, stables and warm-up area be excluded when the showgrounds are hired out for large non-equestrian events
- That the council works with all equestrian groups to ensure the facilities can be used fairly by all
- Bring back regular meetings between the user groups and council